Residents of about forty fishing settlements in Member creek of Bayelsa state have cried out over the devastating effects the recent oil spill in the area on their lives.
Accordingly to the communities, the oil well blow-out happened on November 1, 2021 while while the owner company of the oil well claims it occured November 5.
Apart from the immediate Nembe creek settlements, the dangerous effect of the disaster is spreading to other communities in Bayelsa and the Kalabari axis of Rivers State, killing fishes and other aquatic lives.
Residents of the communities within the vicinity have now been forced to flee their homes
Although Aiteo the oil company, has activated an extensive spillage containment response as witnessed in the area as well as distributing relief materials to the affected communities, the traumatized people said they are dying of hunger following the destruction of their means of livelihood.
The worse impacted settlement, it was learned include Worikuma-kiri, Arrrow-kiri, Adamata kiri, Sunny-kiri I & II, Sand Sand village and other fishing settlements whose inhabitants have been denied right to carry on with their trade.
The disturbed natives lamented that their fishing trade which is their main source of livelihood has been truncated due to the pollution of the rivers, creeks and rivulets adding that their socio-economic condition had worsened and access to drinking water polluted since the spill occurred.
In an earlier report being monitored by African Community News correspondents in Bayelsa and Rivers States, the landlord to OML 29 Well 1 immediate environment, Workuma Pegi (elect) an indigene of the area, said “The incident happened on November 1. It so affected me that, in fact I cannot evaluate the total damage there. In fact, none of the inhabitants stays there anymore. We have been totally displaced due to the hazardous nature of the crude oil spewing in gaseous form. We cannot breathe. And, being so affected and denied of our source of income, we are now going through hunger; even as all our fishing gears have been destroyed. I don’t think I will be able to evaluate what has been damaged there now.”
He said further that -“For instance, the Agric Palms and coconut trees, those are everlasting things. The matured coconut tree produces for about 150 years and my harvest there, when I used to harvest; I know what I get. So that kind of thing you know what it means; it really affected me, including other crops that I cannot mention. The spill affected almost above 50 fishing settlements. Now, we are demanding, if the oil giant does not come, the government should come to our aid and do something meaningful.’’
Another resident who spoke anonymously said “This creek is our major source of drinking, but since this incident occurred we cannot use this water again. The oil well blowout has affected most of our activities here. Fishing which is our major occupation has been halted. Our children now have cough, some have eye problems and different kinds of illness. When it first happened, we cannot breathe well because of the gas as it saturated the air. The government should give us relief materials and send medical team,” he said.
The President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) Prof Benjamin Okaba who berated the oil firm’s handling of the spill reiterated the need to hold oil companies accountable for human rights violation and environment justice lamenting the level of destruction on the environment and aquatic lives which the very existence of the people revolves around.