By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenogoa
Residents of riverside settlement of Lasukugbene in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have cried out that they have been under ceaseless environmental assault following a crude oil leak from a facility owned by Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC.
The facility, known as the Tebidaba/Brass 18’ pipeline reportedly ruptured February 3, and spilled crude oil into the environment until it was clamped last Friday.
However, the natives decried what they described as the slow response of the company to their plight.Speaking during a visit to the area by a team from Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (RA/FoEN) led by Alagoa Morris, the natives lamented that the spilled crude was being spread into the swamps, rivulets and farmlands by rising tides, adding that they were now in terrible condition as all their fishing camps have been deserted, denying them their means of livelihood.
“Right now, we have oil spill within our community environment. And till now, we have not seen Agip. Our farmlands are affected, and we cannot catch fish in the river. The river is impacted by crude oil, the ecosystem we depend on has been destroyed.
“We are not safe. We are, therefore, calling on the world to come around and save us from this peril. We are in danger. We are on the verge of extinction right now,” Valiant Jackson, who is the community’s General Secretary, said.
Another indigene, Godknows Kientei, said: “Our occupation is more of fishing, different kinds of fishing. We have prawn fishing, spreading of fishing nets (stationary, floating or throwing) hooks and other traditional traps. Some of our people are also farmers. And when the tide rises on the river, it carries the crude oil into our farmlands. So, right now we are in a dilemma.
“We have no food to eat, all our traps have been damaged including nets and hooks. We don’t have fish to eat presently. We are being held hostage and we are not happy with this condition.”
In his remarks, Head of ERA office in the state, Morris Alagoa, stressed the need for National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, to visit impacted area and assist the natives.
“The people have been denied of their means of livelihood. They need food and medical attention,” he said.