Mystery deaths: Bonny Chamber of Commerce works with multinationals to protect businesses and workers


* As BOCCIMA approaches CBN for interventions for Bonny SMEs

By Codratus Godson

The Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA) says it is pleased with the support being offered by some multinational corporations on the island and governments.

The support seems to bring down fears over the so-called mystery deaths that ravaged the island weeks earlier which attracted national attention. All eyes had turned to some of the corporations that have to do with gas business.

Both state and national health officials had moved to Bonny to investigate the cause. Covid-19 was blamed for about 60 per cent of numerous deaths while resistant strains of malaria and typhoid caused the rest.

Now, the BOCCIMA says it has stepped in to coordinate series activities to bridge the gap of awareness and explore opportunities for interventions for businesses on the island.

In an interview, the director-general of BOCCIMA, Constance Nwokejiobe, said the Chmabers is working hard to create support for businesses on the island. She said the BOCCIMA has already guaranteed the applications of SMEs in the area for the N50Bn Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) loan support as palliatives to small businesses.

The DG added: “We are currently discussing with CBN on other interventions that can be done to cushion the projected recession envisaged and the impact on businesses”.

These apart, the Chambers continued to encourage the multinational corporations including the NLNG to roll out medical and other interventions. The NLNG particularly has been visible in the efforts to save the Bonny as the pandemic rages.

The managing director, Tony Attah, told Gove Nyesom Wike of Rivers State what the NLNG is doing in Bonny so far on COVID-19. He said:”As a company, we triggered critical preventive measures in our operations very early and promptly initiated engagements with relevant Rivers State and Bonny Local Government authorities. The objective was to proactively identify urgent intervention programmes to ensure the safety of all lives on Bonny Island.

“The outcome of these engagements brought Nigeria LNG to the forefront of implementing interventions in the Kingdom and included: Food palliatives for the community to alleviate hardship in the midst of restrictions on movement and business activities; Establishment of a well-equipped ten-bed Holding Centre for Covid-19 patients at the Bonny Zonal Hospital to accommodate a potential outbreak and need for isolation. This facility is presently being upgraded to a Treatment Centre on the advice of Rivers State Government.”

He equally mentioned what he called sundry donations of medical equipment and PPEs to Bonny Zonal Hospital; strategic and tactical support to Bonny Local Government Council on enlightenment and risk communication against Covid-19 in the Kingdom; and donation of vehicles and sundry medical equipment was also made to Rivers State as well as a pledge of US$1Million to support Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in the fight against Covid-18.”

Reacting to the support so far given by the stakeholders, the BOCCIMA DG commended the groups that worked and ensured the success of the recent establishment of Covid-19 treatment center in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State. “In particular, we wish to underscore the contributions of Rivers State Government, Bonny Local Government, Bonny Chiefs’ Council (Amanyanabo-in-Council) in collaboration with NLNG, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mobil Producing Nigeria Ltd and others.

The BOCCIMA DG said in the interview that this is yet another bold demonstration of commitment to the wellbeing of the community and businesses within the LGA. “Again, this will surely go a long way to alleviate the Covid-19 fear of people and businesses within Bonny. Moreover, this will impact positively on the business environment fundamentals of Bonny communities including boosting confidence among its people.

“As a Chamber, we will continue to advocate that the necessary health precautions and protocols put in place by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is sustained and adhered to in carrying out oil exploration activities and businesses.

“The Chamber pledges to support with enlightenment campaign on the reality of the pandemic amongst its members and other relevant stakeholders with a view to achieving the right health measures while improving the economy of Bonny Kingdom.”

It is expected that the combined efforts would bring to an end the panic over mystery deaths by creating distinctive treatment plans and containment schemes for COVID-19 and eliminating other death sources that add to the panic.