For having access to electricity for the first time ever, residents of Ipetoro and Oruku communities in Sagamu South Local Council Development Area of Ogun State were in an elated mood recently.
A firm that manufactures and exports metal products, Everest Metal Nigeria Ltd (EMNL), has completed the electrification of the neglected communities with the donation of 100 electric poles, wires and cables, as well as a 500KVA transformer.
Spokesman for the two communities, Pastor Chukodi Rufus, said a friend who visited the place in 2018 told him it would take between five and 25 years for the towns to really experience progress.
Indeed, until the intervention of Everest Metal, it was like living in hell for the communities, which host many companies located around Ogijo, along the Sagamu-Ikorodu Road.
The communities had neither a passable road nor a health centre. Not even boreholes for potable water or other basic amenities were available to the people. The communities also experience constant environmental pollution through emissions from the companies around them.
For long, lead and other poisonous contaminants have endangered the lives of the people, causing various health crises, leading to complaints and advocacy for government intervention.
It was this advocacy by a non-governmental organisation, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADEV) Nigeria, that got the attention of the managing director of Everest Metal, Mr. Vikas Chandra Das.
The MD then approached the communities and held meetings with the leaders. His firm offered to provide some of the things that the government had failed to give the communities.
The company started by drilling boreholes for the residents so they could have potable water. This was followed with the grading of road. It thereafter built a health centre. And, to crown the donations, the firm embarked on the electrification of the two communities so as to get the residents out of darkness.
On Sunday, October 20, the firm carried out free medical outreach by providing free drugs and medical services at the health centre. Thereafter, the transformer was unveiled at an impressive ceremony.
Ologijo of Ogijo, Oba Kazeem Olanipekun Gbadamosi, under whose kingdom the communities exist, unveiled the transformer. He expressed joy and gratitude to the company.
“For one company to have donated a 500KVA transformer and 100 electric poles, it must have spent millions of naira. I know another company we’ve spoken to many times on this type of things, which has not done anything up till now. So, I really appreciate what you have done,” Oba Gbadamosi said.
While welcoming guests to the ceremony, the human resources manager, Pastor Adebayo Akinde, said the company had fully kept its promise and agreements reached at its meetings with leaders of the two communities, adding that it had even done more than the people requested.
Executive director, SRADEV Nigeria, Dr. Leslie Adogame, noted that Everest Metal had proved itself a distinguished company by listening to the complaints from the people and doing the right thing at the right time.
“We approached this company in September last year. The MD, Mr Vikas, welcomed us and in January this year we signed an agreement on the need to bring down the level of pollution.
“In less than a year, Mr. Vikas Das has fulfilled his promise. He invited us into his factory to see what they have done so far in areas of environmental management. We invited the officials of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), and they came from Abuja to see the facilities.”
He applauded the MD and the company for walking the talk and being people and environment-friendly. He also gave kudos to the spokesman for the two communities, Pastor Rufus, for being very honest, uncompromising and committed to the cause.
Responding, Das noted that the purchase of cables and wires, and the installation were not part of the agreement. He said he decided to procure the items out of his own volition to hasten the electrification process.
Earlier, he had stated at the facility site that the polluted water that used to flow out of his company had been stopped via the installation of an effluent treatment plant (ETP) and aeration tank in the factory, where the polluted water goes for treatment.
Das noted that the company would continue to do things that would further enhance the relationship between Everest Metal and the communities.
Head of local government administration, Sagamu South LCDA, who was represented by the assistant chief executive officer, Alhaji Jamiu Yekinni, commended the NGO for its intervention. He said the donations by Everest Metal had helped to build a good relationship between the communities and the company.
The Baale of Ipetoro, Chief Mojeed Olanipekun, and that of Oruku, Chief Kamoru Olabinjo, expressed satisfaction over the projects. They expressed joy that their communities would begin to witness true development and rapid progress henceforth.