By Samuel OYADONGHA
For indigenes of Ezetu I, Foropa, Koluama I and Sangana on the Atlantic fringe of Southern Ijaw and Brass local government areas of Bayelsa State, this is certainly not the best of time given the speed at which they are losing their ancestral land.
Unless urgent remedial steps are taken, these serene rural fishing settlements which tourism potentials if properly harnessed could turn out to be money spinner for the state government might be lost to the surging sea.
Sweet Crude gathered from the troubled natives that these oil and gas rich enclave had over the years lost a substantial part of its landmass to the sea.
Sadly, these communities which are oil and gas rich and have contributed significantly to the revenue profile of the country and Bayelsa State are lacking both state and federal government presence except for few Nigerian soldiers manning oil facilities in the deep swamp.
The only vestiges of development in the area are projects put in place by Chevron Nigeria Limited through the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) it entered into with the host communities.
Sweet Crude investigation revealed that coastal erosion menace is not limited to the above mentioned communities alone as there are several others along the Atlantic shore facing the same dilemma.
An indigene of Koluama, who simply identified himself as Omie John recalled how the entire community was submerged some decades ago forcing them to migrate to their present abode.
According to him, the site where the offshore Pennington platform is presented located was once on a dry land.
Aside the coastal erosion threatening the very existence of the hapless natives’ investigation further revealed that they are also contending with the absence of health facilities to cater for their health needs.
Surprisingly, Chevron it was learnt had remained the only source of development agent for the natives as witnessed recently when it commissioned projects ranging from teachers quarters building, potable water projects, public toilets, concrete foot bridges, community rest house, installation of transformers, concrete jetty and renovation of primary school buildings in the communities.
The projects estimated at N482m were executed by the Keffes Rural Development Foundation, one of the Regional Development Committees under the company Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU).
Corroborating Sweet Crude finding, the Paramount Ruler of Ezetu-Pennington Kingdom, King I.N Igbousa Oduo X described the coastal erosion menace as worrisome and called on the federal/state governments and other relevant agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to come to the aid of the communities.
The royal father noted that apart from putting in place control measures to combat the ocean threat he also called for the construction internal road and drainage network to stem the threat.
His words, “some key challenges confronting our communities include the threat of erosion, lack of health facilities to cater for our health needs.