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Youths barricade NPA, free trade zone in Rivers, demand employment

Aggrieved youths in Onne, Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State have disrupted operations at the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone in the state over alleged marginalisation by the companies operating in the area.

According to the youths, who began their agitation on Monday by blocking the entrance of the free zone, said they are dismayed that despite hosting over 50 companies, the people have no jobs, while the area remains underdeveloped.

The area hosts the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Onne Ports, which houses the Federal Ocean Terminal.

The youths, who insisted they were part of the ongoing protest against police brutality and an end to bad governance, also demanded a separate local government from Eleme.

According to them, They given the landmass, population and resources, Onne was viable enough to have a separate local government.

One of the youths, who spoke to journalists during the protest on Wednesday, said: “We are not only saying EndSARS, we are also saying no to marginalization; no to unemployment. The NPA is here, look at all the land occupied by the FOT, the FLT (Federal Lighter Terminal) and all the companies, but we are not feeling their impacts.

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“No jobs; no development. We cannot continue like this. If they don’t employ us, they will not operate here again. We are also asking for a separate local government out of Eleme.”

An official of the NPA, who spoke to reporters under condition of anonymity, said employment was controlled from the headquarters, adding that recently online recruitment was advertised for qualified persons to apply.

He however commended the protesting youths for being peaceful since the protest began, adding that the authority was already looking into the demands presented to it.

The official stated: “What they are requesting for, the Ports management has been able to do one or two. They are looking at the issues with them too and we are try to calm their nerves so that they can allow movement in and out of the ports.

“If they say they are not employed, it is a Federal Government issue because we don’t employ in the ports. But we are appealing to them not to take laws into their hands by not blocking the company’s entrance.

“We are hoping that the talks will come out well for us and the youths.”

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