Seven oil producing communities in Delta State have threatened to shut down the operation of a multinational oil exploration firm operating in their areas over an alleged “lackluster, wicked and barbaric approach” towards the clean-up of the oil spill on their ancestral lands.
The affected communities, Erhobaro, Etavwobakai, Etewhia, Obaro-Uku, Ovara-Unukpo, Atagbuwe and Eroike, all in Ughelli North and Ethiope East local government areas of Delta State, also called on the Federal Government and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency to caution the oil firm, Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited, in order to avert the crisis that might erupt over the spill.
Representatives of the communities on Thursday said they woke up sometime in August 2019 to see their “farmlands, ponds, rivers and streams covered by hydrocarbon (crude oil) from the failed facility of Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited.
“As a result, all the means of livelihood of our people, who are predominantly farmers, got perished, leaving many households in the communities in acute poverty, hunger and suffering,” they lamented.
They explained that several letters had been written to the oil firm and Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) by all affected stakeholders carried out, while NOSDRA had even promised that the affected communities lands, ponds, rivers and streams would be cleaned up and adequate compensations paid by HEOSL.
“But since then till now, the company neither cleaned up the land nor paid compensations for the crops damaged,” the communities lament.
The trio of Chief John Ikushoni (President General, Erhoike Community), Chief Godwin Oviguareya (representing land owners) and Anibor Michael, representing the affected communities, told newsmen that as an aftermath of the oil spillage, the communities had no access to clean water since 2019 as all their lands were already polluted with crude oil.
They insisted that if the HEOSL management further failed to heed to their call, they (communities) would ask them (oil firm) to leave their oil fields.
The woman leader of the federated communities, Mrs Rachael Ukuveghre said the women, “will occupy the premises, we will dance naked on their premises until they listen to us.”