By Josephine Oguntoyinbo
Ondo State Government has said that three bitumen companies have obtained mining licenses to begin full scale exploitation in the state.
The State Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties, Prof. Bayonile Ademodi stated this during a meeting with licensed bitumen companies operating in the state in Akure.
He informed that the bitumen companies are; South-West bitumen, Aspect Petroleum and Kebara Mining Company.
The commissioner therefore reiterated the commitment of the state government to providing bitumen investors the necessary congenial atmosphere to thrive in the state.
According to him, the state government is happy that all the licensed bitumen companies operating in the state have shown unparalleled cooperation and interest in the development of bitumen in the state
While saying that the ministry was established for the purpose of ensuring that the companies are provided the conducive environment to carry out their legitimate operations, he informed that various stakeholders in the host communities had been sensitised on the need to allow them to operate without any form of hindrance.
Ademodi added that critical stakeholders had been identified in the host communities and the government will next week organise consultative meeting/session with bitumen host communities in Okitipupa local government, with the aim of communicating government plans and vision on bitumen development, noting that the Royal fathers in the local governments had shown commitment to the project.
The commissioner who posited that the host communities would not be sidelined to avoid being hostile, stated that the companies are being engaged on the technology they intended to use that would bring minimal damage and remedial plans for environmental degradation.
Earlier, the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Engr. Ebenezer Ogunsanmi informed that the programme was borne out of the ministry’s avowed commitment to ensure that Bitumen is devoid of crisis which is usually associated with mining, particularly crude oil as we have it in the Niger Delta Region.
A retired Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Engr. Dele Ogunwolere stated that the ministry had received the commitment of the host communities to ensure smooth operation.
Also speaking, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), expert, Mrs Bola Akinyanmi maintained that the presence of the supervising ministry in all exploration and exploitation activities was necessary because, “It is not possible for someone to come to my house without permission”, while the state Federal Mines Officer should always collaborate with the ministry when they are on site.
The Federal Mines Officer in the state, Engr. Godwin Silas said that the state government was in the best position to liase with the host communities, so as to guarantee peaceful operation of the bitumen companies.