Shell lambasted over laxity leading to massive spillage in Bonny River
Irked by a huge and devastating oil spillage that has crippled the source of livelihood for fishermen, consequently polluting vast area of the sea and fish ponds within the Bonny territorial waters, the Organization of Fishermen, Sea food Dealers and Farmers in Niger delta, (OFSDF/ND) and the people of Bonny community in Bonny local Government area of Rivers state are lambasting Multinational oil giant Shell, accusing them of administrative laxity which they claim was responsible for the large scale pollution of Bonny territorial waters.
According to reports, the OFSDF/ND has swiftly reacted to the distress fishermen around the affected communities through sending of relief materials to fishermen in Oloma and other communities. Shell is said to have erroneous pumped crude oil into one of her damaged pipelines consequently sparking off a massive spillage which has caused one of the biggest pollution ever observed in the area.
However Shell in a recent statement had acknowledged that the spillage was as a result of the oil they pumped into one of their pipes they were later to find out has leakages. However they denied any knowledge of leakage before the release of crude to the affected pipe, they also alleged that the said pipeline was sabotaged by suspected pipeline vandals and some Bonny community members whom they claim are bunkerers who steal crude oil from pipelines.
Reacting to Shell's claim of sabotage, the board of trustee chairman for the Organization of Fishermen, Sea food Dealers and Farmers in Niger delta (OFSDF/ND), Mr. Richard Abbey said Shell's statement is a deliberate attempt to shy away from the responsibility of compensating those affected. According to him Shell must be made to pay the appropriate compensation to fishermen whose only source of livelihood has been taken away by the said pollution and stressed that the organization will do everything to see that fishermen are compensated.
Hear him“ Shell have a well equipped Security Surveillance team who are on 24 hours surveillance, patrolling their pipeline facilities, how can they claim the spill was as a result of sabotage. Except they are invariably accusing their surveillance team among them armed security operative as responsible for the pipeline sabotage; otherwise their argument holds no water.
The company have owned up that they pumped oil into one of their damaged pipelines and that is obviously responsible for the untold pollution of our waters; I think that is enough concession to us” he noted. The development could set a precedent for multinational oil corporations that exploit lax environmental regulations and violate the rights of communities and individuals in the country.
Mr Abbey observed that Shell is a huge multinational company and should at least have modern facilities to detect broken pipelines to avoid the environmental disaster presently experienced, pointing out that Shell must expedite action by mopping up the spill and then commence the payment of compensation of those concerned rather than looking for baseless excuses to shy away from responsibility.
Mr.Richard Abbey also called on Shell to ensure that real fishermen who are directly affected by the pollution are duly compensated for damages to their fishing equipment, swamp resources, pollution of drinking water and loss of business; while the communities are also given their own community right. This he posited should not be a problem as Shell is articulate enough to differentiate between community and the real fishermen who are directly affected like him.
Similarly some Bonny citizens are saying Bonny Environmental Committee, a group in charge of pollution and environmental issues in the Kingdom should have taken up Shell on this issue, but however expressed disappointment over the way the committee had carried out its functions. They are criticising BEC and alleging that members are only interested in amassing wealth for themselves instead of coming out with modalities to tackle the crippling environmental issues bedevilling the kingdom. BEC they say have not helped their cause in the kingdom, however they promised to pursue this recent pollution to its logical end.
Meanwhile the Chairman of Bonny Local Government Council, Hon. (Barr.) Edward Pepple we gathered has already constituted a body to unravel the cause of the spillage. Modalities are also on to facilitate the mop up by shell according to a council official. “The chairman who is a lawyer might have a showdown with shell if eventually the multinational company tries to be smart over the pollution saga” the official said.