…Our drinking water contaminated, roofs damaged, heat everywhere – Occupiers
…ERA/FoEN condemns gas flaring, negative impact on dwellers, environment
By Samuel Oyadongha
RESIDENTS of Ogboinbiri, a riverside community in the deep swamp of Apoi Clan, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, have pressed the panic button over their houses vibrating and getting disjointed due to unceasing gas flaring and worrisome overflow at a nearby flow-station operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC.
They complained that the community was facing extreme heat, roofs of buildings impaired and drinking water polluted as a result of uncontrolled gas overflow.
Sadly, while the three tiers of government share proceeds from fines relating to gas flaring, Ogboinbiri like others are left with just the negative impacts.
Sudden explosion at gas plant
Reliving a recent incident, a concerned indigene, Kuro, said: “Everyone came out with one hand on their children, babies on mothers’ backs as the community was threatened by unexpected explosion from the gas plant. Information got to us that even the personnel in the plant ran for safety while attempting to calm the situation.
“If you are in faraway Amassoma at night, you can see the shade of the flare. The noise is like a roaring lion. Our building roofs and entire earth vibrate at the same time of the incident. All neighbouring communities around are brightened when this occurs.”
Big threat, terrifying – Jones
According to another resident, Jones: “We cannot keep our two eyes closed at night when sleeping because we do not know when it will happen; though we do not pray for such. It is a really big threat to our lives. It is so terrifying.
“The community is so hot, facing extreme heat. All our roofs are damaged. Our source of drinking water, which is rain, is polluted,” he said.
We need post-impact assessment — Ex- CDC chair
Also, a former Community Development Committee, CDC, chairman of the community who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Yes, it is true for years now, which is why I was demanding for post-impact assessment during my tenure. We really need the post-impact assessment. Our zinc roofs corrode fast.”
Another indigene, who spoke on the overflowing gas flare incident in the community, said: “Though I do not live in the community now, I have experienced it on more than one occasion when the flame goes up, brightening the whole community and caused people to run helter-skelter for safety. It was so frightening when I first experienced it.”
Health centre expensive for natives – Kuro
Though there is a modern health centre in the area built and equipped by the oil company, the locals lamented the high cost of drugs at the centre. An inhabitant, Ebiowei Kuro, asserted: “Yes the health centre is working, but we cannot afford the medical bills, so we use more of herbs.”
Alagoa, environmentalist urges special medical care for residents
Lamenting the plight of the members of the community, the Bayelsa Head, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Comrade Alagoa Morris, decried gas flaring in the environment and its impact on the people.
“It is unfortunate that people living in a community like Ogboinbiri that is so close to two vertical gas flare stacks burning 24/7, cannot access the medical facility in the community due to high cost of medical services and drugs.
“The main community where people live is approximately about 600-800 meters from the vertical gas flare stacks. Ordinarily, these victims of illegal flaring of gas ought to be given special medical attention and properly relocated within the community environment; as is the case of Finima and the Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG in Bonny, Rivers State.
“This is even more so, considering the life-threatening overflowing of the gas and vibrations at the flare site so nearby. Where there is a sense of social and environmental justice, the people of Ogboinbiri cannot be left the way they are – denied.
AGIP exploiting oil, gas since late 80s
“The Ogboinbiri oilfield is within OML 63 and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited has been exploiting crude oil and gas from the community environment since the Ogboinbiri Flow Station was established in the late 1980s.
Presently, the Ogboinbiri oilfield has 17 viable or functional oil wells, from which Agip has continue to extract crude oil and gas till date, producing 50,000 bbls/d (50,000 barrels of crude oil per day) and 180 million cubic feet of gas daily.
“With all the resources taken daily from the community by Agip and NNPC Joint Venture and 13 per cent derivation accruing monthly to Bayelsa State, it is unthinkable that such a community is denied potable water and affordable health facility. And, this is alienation by the government and unjust.”