Bayelsa Communities Cry Out As Oil Spill Spreads To Their Rivers, Farmlands

The people of Abureni Kingdom in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have cried out over a massive oil spill that destroyed farmlands and polluted their rivers.

They said the crude oil spill from OML 29 could be seen floating on the river and that its attendant stench is becoming unbearable.

According to Abureni indigenes led by the Paramount Ruler, HRM (Barr.) Collins E. Daniel, the Olilah-Ebhugh, Abureni Kingdom, the spill which was first noticed some weeks ago from Santa Barbara 1 oil spillage in Nembe had spread into Ogbia communities.

The monarch said it has affected fishing and farm settlements. According to him, fishing routes are also polluted and it has brought about severe economic and social challenges on the people.

Daniel led other traditional rulers of Eboh to witness the spill. The traditional rulers are Olilaema of Eboh Community, HRH Inatimi Okiori; Chairman of the Idema Council of Chiefs, Chief Milton Eghoi-Ikoni; Regent of Emago-Kugbo Community, Chief (Engr.) James Ewa-Adisa and HRH (Dr.) J.I.Ogbomade.

They noted that the Santa Barbara River, which cuts across three kingdoms, including Abureni has destroyed sources of water for drinking, cooking and washing.

A statement issued by the people of Abureni Kingdom said, “It is unfortunate that since the oil spillage occurred weeks ago with its devastating effects, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited, and its management did not deem it fit and necessary to quickly unplug the leakage to minimise the collateral damages caused but appear unprepared and helpless.

“This made the crude oil to be discharged uncontrollably into our creeks and rivulets which are the tributaries of Santa Barbara River.

“The said company has not also visited any of our communities and not paid a courtesy visit to our king to show empathy nor sent relief materials, medicals or trained medical personnel to handle the arising trauma and emergencies. We are no stranger to the intrigues of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited. The attitude Aiteo is showing is consistent with the attitude of SPDC, the first operator of the Santa Barbara oil field.

“It is important to emphasise that since Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited took over the operations of Santa Barbara oil field from SPDC, it has continued with the same intrigue and insensitivity to its host communities, especially the Abureni communities. The effect of oil pollution on any environment usually leads to environmental degradation which can last for years.

“This very oil spillage has affected the flora and fauna of the Abureni environment, occasioned economic losses in various degrees, destroyed the aquatic life and rendered our people jobless. The ecological implication and the life span of the Abureni people are also endangered.”

The Abureni Kingdom called on the Aiteo Company to provide them with relief materials including medicals for persons displaced and generally impacted by the oil spillage.

“We also call for an internally accepted standard of clean-up of Abureni communities/settlements affected by the oil spillage. The immediate remediation of the polluted environment in line with best practices and internal standards,” the statement said.

“A proper assessment of all property belonging to the communities/persons affected/impacted by the oil spillage and payment of adequate compensation without discrimination.

“Involvement of the Abureni communities and their leaders in the stakeholders’ meetings concerning the oil spillage. And construction of the 25 kilometre-Ogbia town-Idema-Kugbo Road being the legacy project earlier agreed to be done by the SPDC. This will assuage the Abureni communities and improve their social relations with Aiteo.”

The statement was signed by 14 persons including Daniel, Olilah-Ebhugh of Abureni Kingdom; Inatimi Okiori, Olilaaema of Eboh community; Chief Milton Eghoi-Ikoni, Chairman of Idema council of chiefs; HRH Michael Edigghotu, Olalema of Amuruto community; Dr. Aforma Sobere, Elder of Akani community and Madam Irene Adewari, Ag. Abureni Women Leader.

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