The State Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah(rtd), has assured host communities of the Bayelsa State Government International Cargo Airport Project, Wilberforce Island that Government was prepared to pay full compensation to the land owners for the acquisition of their land but pleaded with them to exercise some patience.
He stated this during a meeting in the Executive Council Chambers, Government House, Yenagoa, between the State Government Officials and representatives of the five communities, namely; Amassoma, Ikibiri, Ikoli, Sabagria and Igbedi, where the International Airport Project is sited.
The deputy governor therefore, pleaded with the women of Ikibiri Town, who, in the last six days, have been occupying the dredger that is dredging sand at the project site over non-payment of compensation, to vacate the dredger.
According to him, government was losing so much money on account of the stoppage of work due to the sit-in action by the women as the eventual cost of hiring the dredger will be borne by the state government.
He also pleaded with the host communities, particularly, Ikibiri town to grant unfettered access to officials of the Ministry of Lands and Survey to enable them conduct enumeration of economic crops on the project site, with a view to ascertaining the actual amount of compensation payable.
While sympathizing with the communities over the destruction of their farmlands, occasioned by flooding, resulting from the dredging work, Rear Admiral John Jonah(rtd), again assured that the water will be re-channeled in order to reduce the effects of the flooding.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said that the standard template for payment of land compensation shall be adopted, which is payment to individual crop owners on the project site, families that own the land and the communities.
He also commended the communities for their peaceful disposition up till the time of the occupation of the dredger by the women of Ikibiri, adding that the stoppage of work will not do anybody any good and pleaded with them to show understanding as the timely completion of the project is for the overall interest of Bayelsans.
On the issue of the disruption of the power-line to Ikoli community as a result of the project, Mr Ewhrudjkpo assured that the power-line will be relocated as soon as certain cost implications were sorted out and pleaded with the community to be patient.
In their separate speeches, representatives of Ikibiri Community, Chief Agamu Noah and Mr Ebiye Kpun affirmed that the women will vacate the dredger as soon as they return home.
In attendance during the meeting were, Commissioner of Lands and Survey, Mr Furoebi Akene, Principal Executive Secretary, Government House, Mr Douye Diri, Chairman of Yenagoa, Southern-Ijaw and Kolokuma/Opukuma Local Government Councils as well as representatives of the five communities.