By Samuel Oyadongha
The serene rural settlement of Emago-Kugbo, a border settlement between Bayelsa and Rivers, has been ravaged by oil spills triggering outbreak of fire, which led to the destruction of farmlands and pollution of the creek, the only source of drinking water in the community.
Emago-Kugbo, though administratively situated in Abua-Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, is closely linked with the Ogbia speaking Ijaw folks and shares a common untarred road with Otuabagi community in Ogbia Local Government Area.
The immediate cause of the spills said to have occurred along a delivery pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company could not be ascertained but sources from the area told Vanguard that the spewed crude which devastated their farmlands and water supply first occurred in December while another took place on January 22, 2011.
Though a source close to Agip, who spoke anonymously said the ruptured spots had since been clamped, the community insisted that the spill has destroyed their means of livelihood and also exposing their children to both air and water borne diseases. They lamented that they had witnessed series of oil spill in the past with negative impact on their people.
The royal father while receiving the Environment Right Action (ERA) Field Coordinator in Bayelsa State, Comrade Alagoa Morris who visited the impacted site noted with sadness that the company was yet to clean up the impact environment.
“Our means of livelihood has been seriously affected as fish ponds, creeks and other bodies of water in the bush and farmlands have all been impacted. In fact, we are dying. Last year we lost children in this community as a result of the pollution of our only source of drinking and bathing water. These children who died in large numbers has similar health conditions before they died; gastro problems,” he lamented.
The ERA Field Coordinator Alagoa Morris who toured the impacted sites called on the company to take urgent steps to clean up all oil spills impacted sites in the affected area including the creeks and other bodies of water.
The clean up sites, he said, should be followed up with remediation to ensure the impacted environment regain fecundity.
While calling on Agip, the Ministry of Niger Delta and other interventionists agencies to take step to construct access road to open up the area the environmentalist pleaded with the federal and state governments to set up separate agencies to ensure that oil spill impacted sites are not only clean up but be seen to be promptly cleaned up and remediated.