Oil Spill: Bayelsa Community Protests Shell’s Neglect

  • Written by  JOHN ODHE, Yenagoa
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Oil Spill: Bayelsa Community Protests Shell’s Neglect

The people of Bakiri community in Ekeremo local Government Area of Bayelsa state have cried out to Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC to come to their aid following an oil spill from Shell's pipeline into their creeks since May, 2018.

Women, backed by the men, went on a peaceful demonstration round the community, lamenting that since the spill occurred more than two months ago, Shell had neither sent relief materials nor a medical team to care for the health challenges posed by the incidence.

Paramount Ruler of the community, HRM, Rev. Austin Desiken told newsmen after the protest that the oil spill had caused them untold hardship with Shell feeling indifferent.

He hinted that the affected communities had written to SPDC through their representative in the House of Representatives, Mr. Fred Agbedi and the state government but nothing had been done.

He said: "Everyone including Shell knows that fishing is our only source of livelihood. Today, that one source of living has been destroyed by Shell who are doing their own business.

"The incidence happened since May 17, 2018, that is two months and 10 days now and still counting, no relief materials or medical team has been sent to us.

"We can't go to our creeks and fish anymore. All our fishes have died. If you go to the community health centre now you will see our children there that are seek as a result of the chemicals we have inhaled from the crude. All our domestic animals have died.

"I want to state categorically that Shell has no excuse for what they are doing to us right now. It is sheer wickedness because Shell has confirmed to us that the spill that occurred was as a result of equipment failure.

"We want to tell the government of Nigeria and the whole world that Shell has devised a new strategy to wipe us away from the earth. We are dying".

He said he had ordered his subjects to mount a blockade on the creek through which Shell conveys its operational equipment to prevent them from carrying out further operations in the area until the community's demands were met.

Chairman of the Community Development Committee, Mr. Stephen Sibebo also spoke in support of the paramount ruler, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in their plight.

Youth president of the community, Mr. Demedongha Tubolayefa warned that their peaceful disposition with the multinational company should not be taken for granted, urging the SPDC to do the needful as a matter of urgency.

"We are a peace loving people but our peaceful nature should not be seen by Shell as weakness or foolishness.

"SPDC should as matter of urgency bring relief materials to our people. They should also send a medical team to take care of our people who are sick because of the chemicals they have inhaled. They should not push us to the wall", the visibly angry youth president said.

An opinion leader in the community, Mr. Donatus Gbame told Shell to respect the sanctity of human lives, adding that both economic trees, aquatic and wild lives in the area had been destroyed to the detriment of the rural dwellers who depended on them for survival.

Our correspondent who visited the scene of the incidence reports that substance suspected to be crude oil was seen floating atop the creek that runs from the failed pipeline.

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