Ben Dunno, Warri
Aggrieved Esiegbuya family in Ubeji community in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, has issued the management of Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC), a 21-day ultimatum to address alleged health hazards posed to their lives and property as a result of gas flaring from its operations.
The family claimed that they have sent a series of protest letters to the company through their counsel, J. O. Bakpa (erstwhile) of J. Unurhoro & Co, since 2018, but such letter had been ignored. They warned of unpleasant consequences should the company continue to turn deaf ears to their pleas to tackle the environmental pollution issues in their area.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr. Samuel Esiegbuya, lamented the devastating effects of the carbon emissions from production chimney during combustion on the area located about 200metres away from the gas plant, stating that apart from the health hazard of inhaling the deadly carbon for almost a decade, household properties had been severely destroyed by soot emanating from the company.
The letter addressed to Mr. Barau Mohammed Kabir, Managing Director NGMC, read in part: “In reference to the letter dated 20th December 2018 and 18th November 2019, addressed to your office and all on the above-mentioned subject which I am writing to remind you the umpteenth time with displeasure.
“It is now, however, obvious and crystal, that the letters I have written to you in respect of your hydrocarbon suffocation and other health-related issues and also property damage as a result of your hazardous and poisonous chemical flaring in the area tend to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes and also probably make no sense to you hence there was no response till now.
“This is even more regrettable as there are no efforts been made by your office to look into the complaint and proffer solution to it in line with the code of conduct for public officers and considerations despite visible and unrepealable evidence regarding the complaint.
“With all due respect to your office and without mincing words, I can really not figure out that a complaint of this kind that is bogus in nature was brought against your company and up till this moment, that I am writing again, nothing absolutely has been done to avert or ameliorate the problems as stated in our series of letters to your office.
“Permit me, therefore, to conclude at this point that your silence on this deadly and horrific complaint to you is not only callous but also worse than extra-judicial punishment.
“Pertinently, I have been living with members of my household and family here for over a decade before two years ago that I personally removed my family from here because of intermittent health complications owing to this hazardous and poisonous substances from your production.
“Let it be made categorically clear that due to flared gasses with toxic effects on us, and it is basically true that we cannot move our property away from here because of your production flare emitting poisonous substances daily to the negative effects of our lives and property damage in the surrounding area.
“As permitted and allowed by law, I must say this with all humility and unequivocally that this action of not attending to the matter appropriately is nothing other than pure disregard to the right of existence of people and total abuse of public office you presently occupied.
“It would interest you to know that in all the years we have been living here, we have been experiencing different kinds of ailments such as poor visibility, contaminated drinking water and food poisoning due to the flaring from your production plant which is very close to our residents.
“Others are excessive body heats and excruciating pains, skin irritations and rashes, sleeplessness during the night and at siestas as we often experience difficulty in breathing and nasal congestion with nostrils fill with black carbon, particularly at wee hours of the day.
“Our clothes are usually stained with hydrocarbon defacing of our walls, fences, interlocking stones, tiles, decay building materials in the surrounding area were your production activities are been carried out.
“In addition to all these, I have had two cases of tenants who moved out of the area on the grounds of the same complain of chemical reactions and carbon dust flaring all over their apartments and vehicles even when their rents had not
“Sadly enough, we have been exposed to all these health hazards and challenges without even a pittance or health compensation paid to us to alleviate our sufferings.”
“Consequent, this will be the very last letter I would be writing you on this issue and failure to act accordingly this time around, might force me to sue or embark on act of activism as provided for by law to press home our demands in a civilized society,” he warned.
But in a reaction to the allegation, Head, Public Affairs, NGMC, Mr. Darlington Samuel, dismissed the claim as untrue, insisting that his organisation’s operations in the area were mostly devoid of hydro-carbon emissions that cause hazardous pollution in the air.
He maintained that as a company that is into gas production, the carbons that comes with the process is usually converted and cannot, therefore, be emitted in form of gas flare injurious to human health and property.
While acknowledging the fact that there are times they have condensate as a by product in the process of gas production which they disposed of as waste product through burning, he, however, noted that such occurrences are very rare as they happen once every five years.