The Oil and Gas Producing Areas Enlightenment and Empowerment Initiative (OGPAEEI), an NGO, has called for urgent medical assistant and supply of relief materials to Aghoro Community affected by oil spillage in Bayelsa.
The community, Aghoro 1 and 2, were affected by a spillage from the oilfield of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on May 17.
The affected communities are located in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state.
President of the NGO, Mr Jackson Igbabiri, said the medical attention and other relief materials became necessary to ameliorate the suffering caused by the spillage on the people.
He explained that after their assessment on the incident, about 53 communities including fishing settlements were affected.
He said that the community based group was desirous of building a harmonious relationship between oil firms and host communities with a view to reducing conflicts and friction.
Igbabiri urged the oil firm to make a comprehensive assessment of damages caused by the oil leak.
According to him, supplying the medical items would go a long way to curtail the spread of coughing and other related diseases usually caused by oil spill.
“We have conducted an assessment and we found out that many homes have been affected; we have met with SPDC but they are yet to respond; the water in those areas has been polluted.
“The farmland has been affected; fishing nets destroyed; coconut farm, plantain and other crops have been destroyed; source of water damaged because they drink from the rivers,’’ he said.
His Majesty, King Enimikem Famous of Famous Ama Community in Aghoro, urged the oil firm and Federal Government to assist the people with potable water and other relief materials.
Reacting to the development, Dr Alice Aje, Manager, Stakeholder Relations, SPDC, said the oil firm was responding to the spill incident and sought the understanding of the community.
“We regret the spill because it has adversely affected our operations and business, we have shut operations and stopped the spill and we are in talks with our relevant stakeholders.
It is our responsibility to clean up the spill and if it was found to be cause by equipment failure, we shall pay compensation to those affected, that is our process,” Aje said.
She described the spill as “regrettable and unfortunate’’, adding that efforts are underway to convene a joint investigative visit with community representatives to probe the cause of the spill.