By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT— Fishermen in the Niger Delta region on the platform of Artisanal Fishermen Association of Nigeria, ARFAN, have lamented the loss of their source of livelihood to the Bonga oil spill.
The fishermen also lamented that they have lost over N432 million since the incident, lamenting that over 15 of their members have died in the struggle.
ARFAN, which expressed its members’ worries in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during an interaction with newsmen seven years after the spill, said the oil devastation and the chemical used by Shell Petroleum Development Company to cushion the effect of the spill, destroyed all aquatic life in the rivers.
The Coordinating Chairman of the body, Revd Samuel Ayade, expressed concern over the delay in getting justice on the matter, stating the fishermen had lost everything to the devastation.
Ayade explained that the spill which occurred on December 20, 2011, was the reason there were no more Bonga fish in the market.
He said: “After the spill they asked us to steer clear the river so that we don’t bring contaminated fish to the public. Even as we speak, the spill has destroyed and chased Bonga fish from the Niger Delta area. We can no longer catch Bonga fish. This is why you can’t see Bonga fish again in the market and it is expensive.
“The effect of that spill is still on us. When we fish now we only catch sea weeds. The Federal Government should come to our aid. We are suffering and we don’t have any other profession.”
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer and the convener of the meeting, Mr. Chima Williams, noted that the over 35,000 fishermen in the Niger Delta who were displaced by the spill needed attention from the government.
He called on the Federal Government to help the registered fishermen in the region to enjoy their labour, threatening that if the government failed to give attention to the individuals, his chambers would file a suit for the fishermen.