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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

Old 4th Feb 2007, 13:48
  #1641 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 72
Posts: 16,612

I can assure you that bit of information was gleaned from a google search only.

Also, I will admit to having found myself within such an establishment but only by misfortune. One place falsely labelled an Irish bar had some very manly looking women and very feminine men. To make the matter worse, there was no Guiness to be had.

The other place was in Fort Worth....complete with western riding saddles for bar stools. That brought a whole new meaning to "saddle up to the bar".

The bartender....a huge hulk of a guy....asked for my order and then uttered the unforgettable phrase...."Are you Gay, Bi, or what!" I immediately confirmed I was "What", gulped down a can of Colorado Cool-aide and make my exit.
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Old 5th Feb 2007, 20:53
  #1642 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Age: 73
Posts: 481
Angry Expats Desert Niger Delta

According to a new report from Reuters, expats are deserting Port Harcourt since the attacks by MEND and other militant groups were stepped up over a year ago. Most of the expats who had their families here with them have now sent them back home (even some with Nigerian wives and families). Most expatriates stay at home because their companies enforce a night-time curfew, or they impose one themselves. As a result a number of bars and restaurants have either closed down or are on the verge of doing so. Many expats are afraid to go out after dark and the Goodfellas karaoke bar which was a popular spot with expatriates is now almost empty most nights since a number of expatriates were abducted from there by armed men last year.

Local politicians normally arm thugs before elections to stake their claims to electoral wards, and these gangs often engage in "freelancing" of their own.
But MEND says it is not interested in politics -- it is preparing for all-out guerrilla war with Africa's largest army.
"The risks are to the downside," said Kevin Rosser of Control Risks, a security company working with several oil companies in Nigeria.
MEND argues that the people of the delta, most of whom live in poverty without access to clean water, schools, power and roads, have been cheated out of their oil wealth by the central government in league with Western multinationals.
They want to drive away the foreign workers who keep the oil flowing, halt exports and force the federal government in Abuja to renegotiate the terms of Nigeria's century-old union.
"Companies are definitely reassessing their whole posture towards Nigeria. There is real worry about the situation deteriorating and no obvious factors acting as a brake. The underlying issues are intractable," Rosser said, adding that companies were delaying investments because of uncertainty.
What happens after elections in April will be critical, analysts say.
"I think we are coming to a turning point," said Miabiye Kuromiema, director of non-government group Our Niger Delta.
"There is a chance we will survive elections without a major crisis and the next president will engage more fundamentally on the issues of the Niger Delta. If not, there will likely be a bigger challenge to oil production."
All the major political parties in Nigeria are fielding candidates from the predominantly Muslim north after eight years of rule by President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian southerner.
The expected power shift rouses sectarian sensibilities in the south, where minority ethnic groups such as the delta's Ijaw see a history of domination by the northern ruling elite.
The spokesman for MEND, who uses the pseudonym Jomo Gbomo, said he expected the next government to get frustrated by fruitless talks and eventually declare a state of emergency.
"A state of emergency will be declared in the Niger Delta when the north believes they are well prepared for a final assault on militants in the delta," he said in an email.
The MEND foresees a long guerrilla war, a mass exodus from the delta, the killing of expatriate workers and a total halt in oil production.
Yet with all this news, 29 hostages currently being held, almost as many kidnappings already this year as in the whole of 2006, Bristow and CHC seem to be doing little in real terms for staff (and Caverton nothing at all), except add a bit to in-country allowances. There's no real effort to pay for really good internet access so that personnel can use Skype reliably to talk to worried families, neither does either company have a helipad in the camps in which they live in Port Harcourt. The new CHC camp will not be ready for a long time and all Bristow personnel are being moved to a single location which will expose them to considerably more risk from the long journey to work. With a helipad, sick or injured employees could at least be medevaced to the Intels SOS clinic which is the only decent hospital in Port Harcourt (Bristow employees are not even members of SOS, so goodness only knows what would happen to them if they are seriously sick or injured. There's no attempt to provide improved leisure facilities for employees who are almost all confined to camp after work. CHC staff don't even have a swimming pool or a decent gym to work out the stress of the present working environment.

Except for the lucky few, many going on leave have to brave the dangerous road journey to Owerri airport as Port Harcourt international airport is closed. Local operator Arik Air has just started a 3 times daily service to the NAF Base using wet leased Dash 8's from Dutch operator Denim Air. Despite this, many companies will not allow their staff to use them until they have completed a safety audit. Quality and safety managers who sit in their nice air-conditioned offices and never have to face journeys like this, are quite happy to let employees travel with other local airlines like Virgin Nigeria and don't think to carry out a genuine 'holistic' safety audit on the entire journey, including the most dangerous part - the road journey to Owerri. I expect it'll take an expat being seriously injured, robbed, kidnapped or, God forbid, killed, before any of these bureaucrats start to think outside their narrow blinkers . I hear that a number of employees in Bristow are now refusing to be detached to Port Harcourt and there is talk of refusing to travel to/from Port Harcourt if they have to undergo the road trip to Owerri. Bristow also has a much higher proportion of its staff on 5/1 contracts and a number of them are unhappy about still having to work 22 weeks on duty under the present conditions. many have sent their wives out until things improve and even though they're willing to still sork for 10 months a year they want to travel out more often for shorter breaks. As usual Bristow management is totally uncommunicative on any of these issues and questions on back pay, and workover pay all promised after the Eket kidnappings remain unanswered. It's amazing that pilots are still continuing to migrate from CHC to Bristow - as from next week I think there will only be one Brit pilot left working for CHC in PH.

I see little, if any improvement in the short to medium-term future and if things continue as they are oil company operations may be curtailed by the lack of crews to man the helicopter expansion they are expecting to support their new deepwater offshore drilling and development projects. After the legacy of deprivation being left to his subjects by President Obasanjo, I don't see much if any improvement after the forthcoming Presidential elections (if indeed they actually get held ). In mant ways it's surprising to see CHC still investing a huge sum of money into its NAF Base operation (esopecially in view of the past record of the Nigerian Air Force of kicking civilian operators out and confiscating all their fixed assets on the base. CHC must be spending close to $2 million on their present hangar and ramp extensions, whilst Bristow's new passenger terminal looks little bigger than that of Caverton (and is taking considerably longer than the new Caverton hangar ). I wonder if this is linked to the recent departure of their special projects manager to Exxon/Mobil? It's noticeable that CHC has a large number of helicopters less than 3 years old on its ramp area, whilst the tired old Bell 212s and S76A++s of Bristow seem to have declined in number (though it has to be said that NAF Base is one of the smaller operations Bristow has, whilst CHC have only NAF Base and a couple of ancient AS355s in Warri). It would also be interesting to find out what the average age of the pilots in both companies is and whether it's increased or decreased in the last 5 years.

Whichever company you work for, take care out there especially in the swamps, watch your own 6 o'clock and that of your fellow aviators.
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Old 6th Feb 2007, 00:12
  #1643 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Alaska
Posts: 56
Who to blame?

I see lots of posts complaining about the situation in Nigeria. I have made a couple myself, even though I have never been there. I was offered a position there on a few different occasions, but have choosen not to accept. But when you get right down to it, the only person that can be blamed for the situation that the individual finds himself in, is that individual. There are lots of pilot positions available elsewhere! As long as the revenue flows, the company will resists any change. That is just the nature of the business. If you are there, and you are working, you are part of the problem!

Just look back over the last 10 years and see if you can find an incident where the company that you work for improved your work or after work situation of its own accord. Without any outside pressure to do so....didn't happen, and its not going to happen now.

Go on break back to your home country and get sick until the situation improves. Trust me when the money starts slowing to a trickle, the conditions will improve.
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Old 6th Feb 2007, 09:52
  #1644 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: here and there
Posts: 69
I see lots of posts complaining about the situation in Nigeria. I have made a couple myself, even though I have never been there.
Say no more!
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Old 6th Feb 2007, 13:32
  #1645 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 72
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Go on break back to your home country and get sick until the situation improves.
What happened to the concept of telling the truth?
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Old 6th Feb 2007, 22:11
  #1646 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Afrika sometimes
Age: 65
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Angry By Road Ph - Owerri

Rotor Driver,

By your own admission you have never been to Nigeria, so I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself.

Phone Wind,

It's as if you have a crystal ball when you talk about the dangers on the road to Owerri. Only today a Filipino oil worker was kidnapped on the road from Owerri to Port Harcourt (bringing the number of Filipino workers currently being detained to 25). The kidnappers are reported to have blocked the road with a van, killed his police escort, who was trying to protect him, and then kidnapped the Filipino.

And there are still companies who expect employees to travel by road between Owerri and Port Harcourt!!? . If all workers were to refuse to accept to expose themselves to the unacceptable risk of travelling on this dangerous road, employers may be forced to rethink the use of this route. If it were me, I'd ask if my employer accepted full responsibility for sending me on this journey, unless the safety consultant or whoever, got out of that air-conditioned office, flew to Owerri, travelled by road to Port Harcourt and assessed the risks of that versus Arik and recommended in writing that the road option was considerably safer . I'd also want to see a few of senior managers from my company setting the example and travelling that way themselves (their kidnapping could be a salutary lesson and a great way of reducing the number of unecessary administrative staff )
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 01:26
  #1647 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Alaska
Posts: 56
Shut Up?

Like I said...I haven't been there. I didn't say that I am not interested in going there. As long as there are people like you willing to work in that environment for those kind of wages, I will probably never get the opportunity. I expect you to respond with something along the line that I am not qualified or I couldn't handle it, but it doesn't change the fact that you accepted the position and continue to put up with this crap.

So, who is part of the problem? You who stay, or me who refuses to continue to fill the pipeline?
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 05:34
  #1648 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 201
Like I said...I haven't been there. I didn't say that I am not interested in going there
I was offered a position there on a few different occasions, but have choosen not to accept

But when you get right down to it, the only person that can be blamed for the situation that the individual finds himself in, is that individual
..... Never heard of MEND then? I guess the Bristow pilots and engineers who were kidnapped from Eket were willing collaborators by your reckoning .

I was offered a position there on a few different occasions,
As long as there are people like you willing to work in that environment for those kind of wages, I will probably never get the opportunity.
Methinks you're a bit confused. You also seem not to have noticed that a siginificant number of those working in Nigeria are actually Nigerian and may not have the opportunity to move elsewhere. If you're genuinely interested in going to Nigeria - and qualified to do so, I doubt you'd have turned down the opoortunity. For myself, I've now left and I don't think I'd be looking at going back with the present state of play there.
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 06:45
  #1649 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Alaska
Posts: 56

I am not in the slightest confused and I am well qualified...about 3500 hours of 412 time but only 300-400 of S76. I have been offered a position there twice in the last 18 months. The first time I applied, the 2nd time they called me. I declined both offers as unacceptable for both the salary and the rotation considering the political situation and living conditions. I would like to work on the African continent at least once. I am entering the twilight of my career and that is one place that I have never been. I have been to the North Pole and worked in Antarctica and many, many places in between, but I have never even been on the continent of Africa except for 3 days in Cairo which hardly counts.
I actually had a chance long ago...could have gone there from Iran with Bristow (Iranian Helicopters for those that were there!) but I choose to return to the US. Didn't stay in the US long, but never went back to Bristow...
I did speak to Joe Balint a little while ago (for those who new him)...he sounds good.
So to say that IF I have been offered a position I would have taken it, why would I do that if the pay and conditions were less then I was willing to work for? You yourself say that you have left and will probably not return for the very same reasons that I am not willing to go. So what is it that I dont understand?

The political situation sucks, the pay and benefits suck, the living conditions suck and the security sucks...so why would anyone go and why would those that can leave, stay?
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 08:30
  #1650 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: here and there
Posts: 69
The political situation sucks, the pay and benefits suck, the living conditions suck and the security sucks...so why would anyone go and why would those that can leave, stay?
Obviously a whole bunch of suckers working for Bristow and CHC down there! As for your ambitions of working in Africa: Maybe you should be flying tourists up and down the Garden Route?
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 09:34
  #1651 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Nigeria
Age: 54
Posts: 4,759
"But when you get right down to it, the only person that can be blamed for the situation that the individual finds himself in, is that individual "

If by 'situation' you mean Nigeria, then the point could be debated. If you mean the 'situation' leading to being attacked and taken hostage then GFY.
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 10:49
  #1652 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Interesting thoughts!

I left Nigeria(Bristow) not too long ago (3months) and after being there for nearly the past 4 years 3 in Eket(212) 1 in PH(Ec155). Anyone who's worked in Africa knows it is not your average 1st world class environment and lots of its countries can be rated well below 3rd world class! That is common knowledge even if you never toured Africa. Places like Nigeria are tolerable as long as the money and rotation are right or OK. However times change and living and working conditions have worsened drastically in the past 12 months in Nigeria particularly in the Delta region. I agree with you Rotor Driver it is up to the individual to change is life cause the environment is there and most of times you cannot change that. If one is not happy have the courage and the guts to move somewhere else even if it costs loosing a good paid job. Experienced pilots will always find a living somewhere else unless one is a real ... or ! Although I found out that a lot of guys are very reluctant to change and tend to accept some degradation in their living and working conditions just to keep the job (they know well) and to avoid being exposed to a new environment. This explains to me the reason most guys stay in nigeria. As for me I had the guts to leave and I feel very happy where I am now.
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 13:55
  #1653 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
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Perhaps we should start a "Former Bristows Association" but I would think the numbers involved would prove to be a burden.

Perhaps the easier approach would be to see who "has not worked for Bristow".
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 17:58
  #1654 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 201
You still seem confused to me. There are a number of people who are unable to leave because they are unable to fly in their own countries thanks to age restrictions. The only reason I have left is because I am too old to fly any more . Oh well, what's the point, you don't seem like the sort of person who would be emotionally suited to working in Nigeria anyway.
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Old 7th Feb 2007, 22:43
  #1655 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Alaska
Posts: 56
Well if you mean that I am unwilling to bend over and grab my ankles then your right, I am unsuited to that environment. It appears that if it were not for your age you would continue to "bend over and take it".

For the Nigerians that are stuck over there, of course I have no solution to their internal problems. It is my observation (dont know if it holds true in Nigeria) that countries that have problems like Nigeria tend to be very tribal. The battles within the country between the various "tribes" keep the country from advancing with the rest of the world. Most of these countries have absolutely no chance of progressing. The only thing that changes is the tribe in charge, but the corruption continues.

for the expats that are continuing to put up with the companies apparent lack of concern, you and only you have the final say in what conditions you are willing to accept. Apparently the situation has not deteriorated quite far enough yet.

Good Luck and hopefully no one gets hurt over there....
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Old 8th Feb 2007, 06:21
  #1656 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Angry Militant leader warns: 'We will destroy lives'

CNN was recently allowed to visit the 24 Filipino hostages being held in the mangrove swamps of Nigeria and in this somewhat chilling interview, the leader of the militants has said that they will step up their campaign of violence. Meanwhile the government talks a lot, but does nothing and the helicopters of the Nigerian Air Force spend most of their time keeping away from the dangerous areas, just carrying out training missions well away from the swamps or ferrying VIPs to Owerri to catch their flights to Lagos or Abuja

CNN was recently taken to the hostages and one of the militant hideouts in the Niger Delta. It was an exclusive glimpse of a militant group that calls itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, which has ratcheted up its battle for what it says is the unequal distribution of the nation's oil wealth.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer. In 2005, it was the world's sixth largest exporter of oil, but the conflict there has cut distribution by an estimated 500,000 barrels per day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The militants are threatening to hurt the oil sector even more.

"We are going to descend on all foreign interests in the Nigerian economy, either in the river or in the land," said a masked man who called himself Maj. Gen. Tamuno. He said he was the group's leader.

He gave the interview from the murky swamps where the militants have taken up arms, and said his group would soon launch "Operation Black Locust," aimed at key installations across the country. His militants claimed to have 200,000 fighters among them.

"We are telling all expatriates to leave Nigeria, not only the Niger Delta, but to leave Nigeria. We will take lives, we will destroy lives, we will crumble the economy," he said.

Since late 2005, MEND militants have carried out numerous attacks on Nigeria's oil sector and abducted dozens of foreign workers, releasing nearly all of them unharmed.

But in recent months, the attacks have become more brazen and more frequent. Two car bombings were carried out at oil company compounds in southern Nigeria's largest port town of Port Harcourt on December 18, and in January alone, militants abducted more than 30 people.

"The security situation in the Niger Delta region has deteriorated significantly over the past year. Travel to the region remains dangerous and should be avoided," the U.S. State Department said in its "travel warning" on Nigeria last month.

"Hostages haven been taken from oil facilities, public roadways, and within the city of Port Harcourt."

'Struggle for liberation'
The man who identified himself as MEND's leader said his group is fighting because of billions of dollars being made off the oil rich deposits of the Niger Delta, with very little of the profits making it back to the Nigerian people, especially those in the Delta where some of the world's poorest people live.

More than 2 million barrels of crude oil is pumped out of Nigeria every day, according to the U.S. Energy Department. International oil conglomerates from the United States, China and other countries have taken up stakes in the Niger Delta. Among the oil giants are Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and oil service companies like Schlumberger and Brazil's Petrobas.

The masked man said his forces are in the middle of a "struggle for the liberation of the Niger Delta, the most devastated and the most threatened region in the world."

"Our fight is against everybody," he said.

Nigerian forces have struggled in the battle. The navy doesn't travel to the regions where CNN went because the waters are so dangerous, patrolled by armed militants in speed boats that quickly navigate through the swamps.

One person who is working to try to bring an end to the crisis is American-born Judith Burdin Asuni. She works for a nongovernmental organization called Academic Associates Peaceworks, which specializes in conflict resolution.

She says everyone bears the blame for what's happening in the Delta.

"The government, the oil companies and even the militants all share the blame," she told CNN. "The situation shouldn't have been allowed to deteriorate to this level."

And she said the militants should be taken extremely seriously.

"The militants are far more well armed than the Nigerian navy. They have bigger guns and speed boats that can practically go anywhere, even shallow waters," she said.

A week ago, the militants sailed into Port Harcourt and boldly made their way to the central police station in the middle of the town and shot their way out, rescuing 15 of their comrades who had been arrested by the navy.

"That's how bold they've become," Asuni said. "They rule the roost."

Former Nigerian military ruler and retired four-star general, Ibrahim Babangida, said the country's leaders must do something soon to try to bring about an end to the crisis.

"The window is closing fast," he said. "The Niger Delta crisis is solvable but our leaders have to act fast. I know the Delta, I spent some time there. Those militants can only wait so long."
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Old 8th Feb 2007, 22:18
  #1657 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Posts: 377
Thumbs down The Travails of the Common Man

Some of our expats have quit, some been sent home today as a result of seeing the CNN documentary. More will doubtless fail to return from leave after pressure from their families. Describing the militants, who may or may not have been from MEND, as like Robin Hood was a sick travesty . Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor, he wasn't involved in kidnapping and extortion of money from the families of innocent men (and now women) to purchase more weapons and terrorise more people . In spite of all this, both CHC and Bristow are trying to insist crews travel between Port Harcourt and Owerri by road . When their management travel to Port Harcourt they only come if they can travel in Aero Dash 8s or executive jets. Just imagine Kone Heaven or Neddy Holdon arriving in Owerri (late of course ) on the morning Virgin flight, joining all hoi polloi in the WWE replay (known as the baggage reclaim), only to find that their suitcases have been 'misplaced'. losing their expensive PDA phones to pickpockets and touts, then enduring a couple of hours taking in the sights of the wrecked vehicles of previous travellers on the Road to Hell
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Old 8th Feb 2007, 23:14
  #1658 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: AFRICA
Posts: 153
Devil Frenchman kidnapped

And now they kidnap frenchies
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Old 9th Feb 2007, 00:51
  #1659 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 72
Posts: 16,612
No problem ....if they are typical Frenchmen....the bandits will be offering a reward for someone to take them back!

Just kidding....hope all turns out for the good!
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Old 9th Feb 2007, 00:58
  #1660 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 124
Gulf Helicopters had a helicopter hijacked in Yemen several years ago. The Capt was released almost immediatly while all of the passengers were held capative for several days.

Why was the Capt released? He was from India and eveyone knows that you can not collect ransom for an Indian!!
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