By Emma Amaize
Five villagers, including a couple, have been killed by cholera at Sokoh, Ekremo and other shoreline communities in Burutu Local Government Area, Delta State, following alleged contamination of their river by oil exploration companies.
Among the dead were Ekenrenwei Igenisuode and his wife, Yekikonne, at Ekremo Federated Communities, and Johnson Pabebe, Adoere Epreyofie and Pa Ogbuma Igenisuode from Sokoh community.
Meanwhile, the people of Sokoh, Ekremo, Omiegbene, Majorgbene, Sietoru, Fish Town, Pupugbene, Aghoro I and 2 communities affected by the ravaging pollution that killed fishes at several riverine communities in Niger Delta region, some months ago, are demanding compensation from government (federal, state and local) and oil companies for degradation of their environments.
Head of Committee of Burutu Communities Affected by River Pollution, Chief Augustine Seibi, confirmed the deaths.
According to him, “the devastating environmental pollution occurred a few months ago in River Forcados, River Ramos and others, terminating in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The plight of the affected communities were not addressed since then and it has worsened by the day.
“This committee, therefore, finds it expedient to call on the three tiers of government and other relevant stakeholders to, please, pile pressure on the oil companies to accept responsibility in this life-threatening act.
“This is because we have sufficient reasons to say the oil companies are responsible for the pollution.
“It is, indeed, their explorative activities like in most oil spill cases that could contaminate the waters of the environment, occasioning the wanton death of fishes and other aquatic organisms, which were further driven by the tidal flow deposited at the shores of communities and other uninhabited environments.
“We wish to reiterate the fact that all communities are directly and/or indirectly affected and are rendered impotent without any means of restoration.
“These communities situate at the shorelines of the major rivers, tributaries, estuaries, distributaries and rivulets, which are open to daily tidal flow of the sea.
“The ugly situation has caused acute hunger, sickness, death and several forms of frustrations are further accentuated by the presence of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which enforced lockdown come with embarrassing situations.
“As we speak, fishing, the main occupation of people in these communities, be it deep sea, shallow fishing, creek and pond fishing have been affected; farming at both swamp and upstream lands are impacted, and hunters find it difficult to do operate too.”
Besides compensation, the affected communities demanded: “provision of adequate relief materials to cushion our anxiety, fear and pains; fishing gadgets and fertilizers to enhance proper and serious farming work.”
To check the Cholera in the Delta communities, the people also asked for water, electricity and social amenities, cottage hospital and provision of employment for their jobless youth.