The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) visited Ajido community in Badagry where the West African Gas Pipelines Company (WAPCO) substation is based in response to a Save-Our-Souls over increased gas flarings and the injurious impacts on the health, livelihoods, and plantations in Ajido, Imeke, Araromi, Agemuwo and others within proximity of the flares.
In the course of the visit, ERA/FoEN field monitors noticed that unlike some months back when the flares were ignited periodically in the nights, it is now full blast and lit 24 hours. A huge flame from the flare point is now noticeable at the facility in Ajido and the neighbouring communities giving a semblance of the situation in the Niger Delta. The increase in flared volumes, WAPCO sources had claimed, is a result of pipelines which broke down since late 2012 which the company is yet to fix. The increased flares could be described as a transfer of the burdens of the company to the hapless communities which now carry the burden of the flared gas.
The intensity of the flames was so forceful that the noise could be heard several miles away. Community people that the ERA/FoEN team interrogated complained of the high temperature since the company began the 24 hour flares. It was also noticed that the heat in the community had increased so much that many people, especially the male now go bare-chested.
The state of infrastructural decay in Ajido and neighbouring communities were still evident more than a year after ERA/FoEN team visited to document the state of affairs in the communities. For instance, the Iworo Road which runs through Ajido and leads to WAPCO substation was a state of collapse so were other public infrastructure like school buildings and boreholes which WAPCO claimed to have put in place.

Background of the WAGP
WAGP is a multi-million dollar project involving 678 km gas pipelines transporting natural gas from Escravos in Nigeria to Benin, Togo, and Ghana used for power generation, especially for industrial and commercial use.
WAGP is an initiative of the New Partnerships for Africa Development (NEPAD). The project is estimated to cost about US$590, and additional compression-related costs are estimated to be at about US$10 million over 20 years. Funding partners include the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The partners and countries include Chevron-Texaco -West African Gas Pipelines, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Shell Overseas Holdings Limited and the Takoradi Power Company Limited. The WAGP, as it is also called, is operated by WAPco, a company established by the governments of the four countries.

ERA/FoEN learnt that a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between WAPco and the communities was never honoured. Rather what the communities got were tokens of substandard boreholes in a few communities, a non-functioning clinic and two separate blocks of schools classrooms (six rooms each) in two communities whose prices were highly inflated.

The WAGP project, as noble as its intents are portrayed to the outside world, has continue to remain a pain in the neck of host communities across the four countries. Badagry where the Nigerian office is based and hosts the gas station, has been one of the worst hit. Environmental polution arising from the flaring of gas at the station in Ajido, the negative impact of underwater pipes on the Badagry water bodies especially the lagoons bearing the famous coconut plantations, violence and unlawful detention of protesting individuals, short-changing of community folks for lands taken and in some cases, no payment at all, have been some of the issues faced by the community in hosting the controversial project.
The latest development, specifically the increase in gas flaring activity, according to company sources is a result of broken down pipelines.


Sannu Olakintan (aka Butter), 33 years driver
We are suffering here. In the night, we can’t sleep in our homes because of heat. Now, we sleep outside. Even when you wake in the morning, in just a few minutes, you are drenched in sweat. It is simply terrrible. Please, Can’t you yourself feel the right now?
They say we Badagry youths are jobless, that we are mere fishermen, but now we can’t even fish because they are all dead because of the gas flares. And, there is no electricity. Please, tell government to come to our aid. We are really suffering.

Ola Aworonsu (commercial motorcycle rider)

These flares have killed our fishes, palm trees, vegetables and other plants. Now, in the night, the noise from the WAPCO facilities will not allow you to sleep. People are complaining bitterly. On top of that, there is no electricity, no water and no good road.
Because of the flares, so many women are having miscarriages in this community. What is happening in the Niger Delta is the same thing being played out here. A friend of mine who is from there even told me we have not seen anything yet. But I can assure you, when the heat becomes too much, we will rise up.

Sikiru Aliu, an Ajido Youth Leader

We are not happy with the state of things in this town. At every point, the noise and the flames appear as if a plane is crashing down on us. We can’t sleep in the night anymore, and we have to open our windows and doors if we are to sleep inside at all.
What is happening now is that WAPCO is making their millions and at the same time they are killing us by instalments. They are killing even the unborn children going by the rate of miscarriages we have in the community now.
There are no good roads, no electricity and our water wells are being poisoned by the gas flares. Our community is also under siege by the security attached here by WAPCO so that we can’t talk.  Let the Federal and Lagos State Government please come to our aid.

A Local Chief who craved for Anonymity
As a member of the Traditional Ruling Council, I am not supposed to talk without express permission from our chairman, but let me tell you that I am not happy with the development. What we are witnnessing here now is tragic. That was not what we were promised.
True, we wanted a company and we were happy when they (WAPCO) came here. We thought that our youths would be employed. Today, there no jobs, only gas flares and heat.
There are laws guiding us so I can’t say much. We have been barred from speaking out about these issues. This is a democracy yet here there is no freedom of expression.

ERA/FoEN Demands:
1.    The Federal and Lagos State government compel WAPCO to immediately halt the flares in Ajido
2.    Lagos state government intervene Ajido to protect the human, environmental and health rights of its citizens in Badagry who face dire consequences of the noxious fumes and heat emanating from the gas flares.
3.    The federal and Lagos state government carry out a thorough investigation of the various complaints from the affected residents on the activities and alleged misdemeanours of WAPCO.
4.    Lagos State Environmental Agency (LASEPA) which gave WAPCO an ultimatum to stop the flaring on February 22, and which it flaunted and continues to flare as at the time of filing this report (February 25), penalise the company and apply appropriate sanctions in accordance with the law of the land.
5.    WAPCo immediately embark on constructive and open dialogue with the community folks to find a solution to the challenges in the waterfront.
6.    WAPCO henceforth and permanently halt the flaring of gas considering the harsh consequences on the people’s lives. At a time that the Federal Government and governments around the world are trying to make gas flaring history considering its far-reaching negative impacts on communities, it is inacceptable for WAPCO to continue to remain a lawless corporate entity which has no regards for the lives of Nigerian citizens.

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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

This group issues out communications using ERA's headquarter address and mail box. We have never had any ties with this group and any views, comments or opinions expressed by them is not endorsed or authorized by any member of management or staff of ERA.

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