02 November 2016, Yenagoa – Residents of Ogbia and Yenagoa communities of Bayelsa State have expressed concern over “massive” oil spills that polluted their environment.
The spills, it was learnt occurred on Wednesday at Ekole Creek, around Agbura, in Yenagoa Local Government Area and Otuokpoti community in Ogbia area of the state.
The residents claimed the spills, emanating from leaks from an oilfield, reportedly operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company, destroyed farmlands and aquatic lives in the communities.
The incident was said to have attracted residents who trooped out to scoop the crude oil flowing from the spills.
A resident of Otuokpoti community, Mrs Cecilia Osain, said the spills had negatively affected fishing activities in their river.
She claimed that those who went fishing came back with no catches, saying the spilt crude oil had forced the fishes, crayfish and shrimps away into the high seas beyond the reach of fishermen.
Osain also said bathing in the river was no longer safe for residents as those who did complained of itching all over their bodies.
She said the community relied on the creek for drinking water and for domestic use.
Meanwhile, the people of Otuokpoti community have appealed to the government of Bayelsa State to provide relief materials to them in order to ameliorate their plight.
In a letter signed by their Paramount Ruler, Chief Cousin Wongo, and Chairman, Community Development Committee, Mr. Simpson Isikpi, the community noted that the spillage polluted the entire river.
The community said the incident had impacted negatively on economic activities of the people as the river serves as a major source of income to members of the community.
“We cannot drink water, we cannot bathe in the river, our aquatic life such as fishes and animals are dying. We appeal to the relevant authorities to come to our aid,” the letter read in part.
They also appealed for the immediate clean-up of the river to enable the people to resume their fishing activities.
Speaking in the same vein, spokesperson for the youth wing of the Ogbia Brotherhood, Mr. Lamawal Wilfred, called on operators of the affected pipeline to send experts to ascertain the cause of the leaks.
He urged Agip to prevent further pollution of the river which serves as their major source of water.
But officials of Agip declined to comment when contacted.
The Media Relations Manager, at Eni, parent company of Agip, Mr Filippo Cotalinni, has yet to respond to a request for comments on the incident.