14 April 2014, Abuja – Following the continued hardship being experienced by communities affected by the Bonga oil spill, the federal government at the weekend assured the shoreline communities of its readiness to intervene and assist them with relief programmes.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Mallam, gave the assurance in Abuja when leaders of the community visited her.
She explained that though government intended to tackle oil spillage in the Niger Delta, special attention was being paid to shoreline communities of Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States affected by the Bonga oil spillage.
The minister assured them that relief would soon come their way, even as she sympathised with them on the devastating impact of the spillage on farm lands, marine and aquatic life.
Mallam told the delegation that she appreciated the enormity of the multiple impact of the spillage on the affected communities and promised to organise a stakeholders’ meeting involving Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) in the coming weeks to find an amicable solution to the challenge posed by the spillage.
While appealing for the sustenance of the prevailing peace in the region, Mallam said: “Government will neither overstretch their patience nor underrate their resolve for a peaceful solution to the unfortunate incident.”
The minister likewise acknowledged the need for all communities in the Niger Delta region affected by the Bonga oil spillage to work harmoniously towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.
Also speaking, leader of the delegation and coordinator of the shoreline communities in Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States, Mr. Francis Amoma-Monday, stated that though the effort of Shell in the overall development of the Niger Delta region, especially in the area of the provision of social amenities and infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals as well as electricity and portable water is commendable, there was the need to also halt the continued cases of environmental degradation.
Amoma-Monday however informed the minister that “there was the need for Shell to cushion the negative impact of the spill on the affected shoreline communities, explaining that in an effort to clean up the spillage, the pollutants used by Shell had created even more problems than the corporation is attempting to solve.”
He explained that the substances used by Shell, which had been banned in some parts of the world including United States and Switzerland, had completely destroyed their farmlands, marine and aquatic life, adding that a lot more needed to be done to bring respite to the way of life of members of the communities, even as the people of the area appreciate the effort of the corporation so far.
Moma-Monday expressed hope that the intervention of the Minister of Environment would go a long way to heal the wounds that have been created by the unfortunate incident.
The Bonga oil spill occurred on December 20, 2011 during a routine export operation to transfer Crude Oil from Bonga Floating Production and Storage (FPSO) facility, causing environmental devastation across farm lands and landscape within the three states.
– This Day