Rivers community cries out over environmental damage from a year-long oil spill

who owns the oil?

Tina Amanda

People of the Omoviri-Rumuekpe Community in the Emohua local government area of the state, have cried out over a massive oil spill that has damaged their environment, crops and polluted the Omoviri river which is their only source of water and irrigation.

Our correspondent who visited the area reports that a vast area of farmland comprising cash and food crops were destroyed by the spill.

The Community which host some Oil companies such as Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC and Total are majorly fishermen and women, farmers, sand dredgers and timber lumbering.

Community Development Chairman, Excellent Eze, while speaking to journalists lamented that they started experiencing the spill in April 2020 and it has devastated their sources of livelihood.

According to him, they have lodged complaints to the ministry of environment, the local government Council and noting has been done.

“It is not good that we are living nearby water and we can not enjoy or make use of the water. Let government at all levels and the Oil companies operating in our community come to see for themselves the depth of pollution.

“We are suffering, no school, no good road network, no hospital or electricity, nothing to show the presence of oil companies or government in our community.

“If you plant, cassava, yam, vegetables, it will not grow, this situation is affecting us seriously because our economic activities have been destroyed. Before we catch fishes by setting a net or hook and so many other ways, but now we no longer fish due to the pollution.

“Our Women and children are greatly affected because there is no water for them to bath, cook or drink, we don’t know the source of the oil spill.”

He called on the state government, relevant agencies, Civil Society Organisations and all well-meaning Nigerians to urgently intervene in their pathetic situation, as the community lacks means of getting portable water.

Also, Spokesperson Social Action a Civil Society Group, Prince Edegbuo, said the organization is working effortlessly to get justice for the Rumuekpe Community and ensure proper clean up is done to ameliorate the devastating situation.

“The issue is not just the pollution but finding the source. As a Civil Society Organisation our interest is to partner with the government of Nigeria to find out the source, we are interested to ensure clean up is done in the Omoviri river to bring it back to its original state.

“Land is very important to everybody, the Rumuekpe Community are farmers majorly, fishing is part of it and as the pollution sinks deep into their water level it also affects the yield of their farm produces.

“It will be recalled that Rumuekpe Community suffered a major crisis that to the destruction of lives and properties from 2005-2008, hence the community is recovering from the effect of that crisis as reconstruction is still ongoing. The oil spill and the consequences of oil activities are exacerbating the suffering of the people.

“Several ailments, sickness and diseases have emanated from the situation as the people inhale toxic fumes, drink poisonous water, farm on soil that has been contaminated, they work so hard but are unable to live a good life and this can be traced to the failure of oil companies to clean up the spill.

“It is sad to note the presence of Shell and Total in the Community has not ameliorated the situation as no help or assistance to remedy the damage. A visit from the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) did not yield any positive result or good development in the area.

“Social Action as an organization that promotes resources democracy, social justice and human rights in the sector of energy, mining, environment and climate change with the goal of supporting Community participation in development sees this as a shame to mention that a host Community to multi-national oil companies facilities cannot boast of portable water.

“We call on the federal, state, local government, relevant MDA’s as well as Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to heed to the cry of the people by providing good drinking water, health centres, good and accessible road and support farmers in order to improve the standard of their living”