15 May 2012, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The Chairman of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Tiwei Orunimighe has expressed concern over the death of 9 persons following the upsurge in illegal bunkering and illegal refining activities along the waterways and creeks in the state and its attendant despoliation of the environment.
Orunimighe, who is also the Chairman of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council area of the State, said past security operations of the council chairmen with the men of the Joint Task Force have failed to stem the tide of criminal activities and that the rising spread of the illegal operation of the bunkerers have led to pollution of the waterways and creek as well as outbreak of diseases and deaths in some communities in the state.
The chairman explained that from available data, the death of nine persons occurred in four communities in his council area.
Giving a breakdown of the recorded casualties he said, in Opuama five deaths were reported, two at Emede, one at Enewari and also one at Igbomatoru.
“They allegedly died from complications and diseases associated with the consumption of the polluted waters along the creeks and waterways of the council area,” he said.
The state ALGON boss who spoke during an interactive session in Yenagoa at the gathering of media practitioners and professionals known as “the Parliament”, said the authorities of the local government councils have become burdened by the financial implication of the fight against illegal bunkering and asked the Federal Government to assist the on-going state government initiative to stem the worrisome rise in illegal bunkering in the state.
He explained that the state governor, Seriake Dickson has formed a special committee to assist in the fight against illegal bunkering.
“My council area cannot do it alone. The problem is hydra-headed. The business of illegal bunkering in the area is so huge; you will see crude oil along the river and creek. The local government does not have the resources. If we have to tackle it head-on, we may not pay salary.”
“In the last six months, we have spent so much in providing logistics to the JTF and no result. A new partnership should be initiated with oil companies, NDDC, and others to stem the tide. We have done our part, we have also provided bore holes to 10 out of the 17 communities in the Southern Ijaw area,” he disclosed.