27 Nov 2017
Basrah Gas Company successfully relocated Al Shaheed Wajdi community school to a safe area - acting on its promise of being a safe and responsible neighbour to Basrawi communities.
On the morning of the 22nd of November, Al Shaheed Wajdi Primary School was officially opened in Basrah southern Iraq under the auspices of the Basrah Gas Company (BGC) and the Oil and Gas Committee-Basrah Provincial Council. BGC managed the successful temporary relocation of the school to a safe location - showcasing means of effectively mitigating potential health and social impacts of its inherited pipelines located at a proximity to community members.
This initiative was delivered after almost a year of joint-efforts by BGC Social Performance (SP) team, the Basrah Provincial Council, the Ministry of Education and the local communities.
At the school opening ceremony, Mr. Simon Daman Willems, Basrah Gas Company Managing Director commented: “This is a true example of safety and SP in action and an outstanding best practice in Iraq. Safety is at the core of everything we do in in Basrah Gas, and I am extremely proud to see that our SP capability has been instrumental in the delivery of the school relocation initiative. Al Shaheed Wajdi Primary School is the second of three schools that we managed to relocate to date. We work very closely and in collaboration with the Local authorities and local communities in Basrah who played a key role to the successful realisation of this project”. Simon continued, “All students and teachers have now been relocated to a safer location. We care for the welfare and safety of our communities and we will continue on delivering added-value SP initiatives while ensuring the practice of International Safety and Social Performance standards are in place”.
A true understanding of pipeline safety and the affiliated risks at hand was very limited amongst the communities surrounding the school. This paused further challenges, but with the SP led resettlement committee, continuous consultations with local communities made it possible to address the risks involved and obtain their consent for the relocation. Out of goodwill one of the community members donated his land to facilitate the temporary relocation of the school - a true reflection of BGC’s continuous partnership with the community.
Ali Shaddad Al Fares, Head of the O&G Committee, Basrah Provincial Council said: “This is a milestone and an initiative to be proud off. With the mobalisation of the specialised committee, compromised of key community stakeholders, parents and local authorities, it was possible to implement the quickest course of action and planning. Thanks to all the parties involved to successfully deliver this project and build the appropriate school’s infrastructure to maintain the safety of the children and teachers”.
A teacher also added: “The population of Al-Shaheed Wajdi School is around 315 boys and girls, relocating them to a new venue meant there was a need for good coordination to be in place. The classrooms are of high quality- a huge difference from the old school which was in a deteriorated state - classrooms were cramped and lacked many facilities. Now each student is comfortably seated on his/her desk and the school is air conditioned with full specification. We are happy to see that there was no disruption to classes and we are extremely relieved to continue with our job to teach in a safe environment”.