ERA rally support for protesting Bayelsa community

…Daewoo allegedly blocking course of natural water

Samuel Oyadongha

Yenagoa -The group, Environmental Rights Action has thrown its weight behind the people of Kalaba and Ayamabele communities of Okordia clan in the Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State protesting against the blocking of their waterway by the Korean oil services company, Daewoo.

It called on the state government to make good its pronouncement of revisiting the state environmental laws to met acceptable standards.

Aggrieved women from the two sister communities last week staged a peaceful protest against the company which activities they claimed had denied them the use of their rivulet, their only means of livelihood.

The natives are now compelled to trek long distance across the Taylor Creek carrying farm produce on their head and shoulder back home instead of using canoe due to the laying of two 24 inches pipes placed (under what has become a road across the rivulet) serve as the only means of water flowing from one part of the water course to other side.

ERA through its field coordinator in the state, Comrade Alagoa Morris expressed dismay over the blockage of creeks, rivulets and other natural bodies of water, noting that this is not acceptable in the state. He recalled the November/December 2009 saga during which the company in course of laying pipeline for oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company blocked the Kolo Creek leading to the outbreak of diseases in some Ogbia communities, especially Oruma and Otuasega.

Lamenting the plight of the people of Okordia clan ERA demanded that the company should produce the EIA report which allows it to block the free flow of such natural water.

The community women the group noted have a right to their natural water route and that the company should not deny them this right as doing that would run counter to Article 24 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which states that: All people shall have the right to a generally satisfactory environment favourable to their development.

Comrade Morris therefore urged all stakeholders to ensure that the matter does not degenerate into violence even as he called on the Bayelsa State government to make good its pronouncement of revisiting the state environmental laws to met acceptable standards.

“The state government made this promise over two years ago, but nothing positive seems to have come out of the pronouncement. Since the state was created for the protection and happiness of the people, our environmental laws should be seen even in that light. The locals should not be left at the mercy of the whims and caprices of these powerful companies operating in our environment,” he said.

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