By Emma Amaize
WARRI—OVER 50 Ijaw communities/villages at Chanomi Creek and Ogbe-Ijoh areas in Delta State, yesterday, demanded that the Federal Government conduct proper Environment Impact Assessment, EIA, and pay appropriate compensation to affected communities before commencing the proposed dredging of Escravos –Ogbe-Ijoh River to Warri Port.
The communities, which feared that they could be badly impacted if acceptable EIA was not carried out, however, said through the Coordinator of the affected Ijaw communities, Mr Clarkson Aribogha “The approval of the dredging of the port is a welcome and well deserved development, which beside other benefits, will provide job for the teeming jobless youths.”
But they criticized the survey, mapping and sounding activities by officials, which they alleged, were done secretly and asked to be notified of the modalities to be applied in executing the project.
“We urge the Federal Government to pay compensation to the communities that will be affected during and after the dredging because their source of livelihood such as fish ponds, forest/ swamp, fish migration, fish gear damages and many others are not going to be spared,” they said
To avert environmental backlash on them, the communities urged that the dredging be extended to Gbaramatu Kingdom, saying: “Escravos River down to Chanomi Creek are under the administrative domain of Gbaramatu Kingdom, just as Chanomi Creek to Warri Ogbe-Ijoh and Nigerian Port Authority are under the administrative headship of Ogbe-Ijoh.”
They said that riverine dwellers, who lost their sources of livelihood and were displaced at the time, were yet to recover from the hardship, pandemic poverty and sad memories of what they experienced in the 80s when a similar dredging was carried out.
In a petition to the Minister of Transport, Mr. Chibuike Ameachi, they said: “Since the last dredging by the Federal Government from Escravos- Chanomi- Warri Ogbe-Ijoh River in the 80s, no such event has taken place till now and thus resulting to the titration of the river channels and
The communities admonished the Federal Government consultants and contractors involved in the project to take cognizance of their corporate social responsibilities to the host communities in the course of carrying out the dredging operations.