Port Harcourt — Fire caused by oil spill from Okordia-Rumuekpe pipeline operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC has continued to razed farms, mangrove and swamp in communities across Ahoada West LGA of Rivers State.
The fire which has been raging for the past three days has destroyed over 60hectares of land in Okogbe community, Ahoada West and environ.
Our correspondent gathered that two separate oil spills occurred from Okordia-Rumuekpe pipeline operated by SPDC, and Ogoda-Brass pipeline operated by Agip in the area, around the middle of last year.
The spills, which apparently was not recovered nor cleaned, was later in the year dispersed by flood into the surrounding communities, impacting farmlands, streams, forest and other sources of livelihoods in the area.
A victim of the incident, Dr. Patricia Ogbonnaya, whose farm has been grossly impacted by the oil spill, including her 14 giant fish ponds, said she noticed crude oil in her farm since December 2020 and had written NOSDRA and DPR, but no positive response.
Ogbonnaya who is the Ada Ekpeye Ologbo II, accused DPR (who frames environmental guidelines for oil operations) of gross incompetence and conniving with the oil multinationals to shortchanged the people.
She explained that the ongoing fire in the area was a calculated attempt to cover up, as it was happening few days to the day scheduled for the planned joint investigation visit by NOSDRA, the government and stakeholders.
She also accused SPDC of lacking safety equipment, wondering why the company has refused to put out the fire, which was caused by spills from their facility in the area.
“Oil spill occurred since June 2020 and it wasn’t cleanup, because if it was cleaned up on the time flood would not have take it to my farm and the devastation would not have been this enormous.
“DPR is not working, it is either they are collaborating with SPDC to shortchange the people or gross incompetence and inefficiency.
“Even if Shell is not responsible for the fire, but the fire is as a result of of their negligence. If they had cleaned up the place nd recovered the environment when the spill occured since last year, the devastation would not have been this much.
“I want justice. There are extant laws that guides the operations of these multinationals; these laws are being uphold in other places but in Niger Delta and Ekpeyeland particularly, these laws are ignored.”
Meanwhile, the King of Okogbe, HRH Ikaki Ikaki, has threatened a legal action, should the oil operators fail to do the needful by remediating the environment and paying compensation to the people.
“Up till this time, neither SPDC nor Agip has come to put out the fire or assess the level of damages. Even the farm of Ada Ekpeye Ologbo has been impacted
“We are calling on Agip and SPDC to as a matter of urgency, clean up this spill and quench the fire, commence immediate remediation and reasonable compensation to the people.
“The fire has rendered our farmers useless because the whole forest is being destroyed by the fire. We are suffering.
“We will not hesitate to take legal action against SPDC, if all our efforts through NOSDRA and DPR to prevail on Shell to clean up our lands and pay compensation proves abortive. We are a peaceful people and we will not want to take the laws into our hands.”