Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Olero Oil Field communities in the Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State have appealed to the state government to take urgent steps to address the problem of environmental pollution arising from the destruction of confiscated oil vessels by security agents.
The communities warn that the pollution is liable to cause an epidemic and economic hardships to residents, in addition to destroying their livelihoods.
The host communities made the demands at a protest during a stop-over from a helicopter-driven aerial assessment of the impact of illegal bunkering activities in the Warri territory by Delta deputy governor Kingsley Otuaro.
Responding to the speech presented by the chairman of Olero Oil Field Communities, Mr Iluwa K. Simeon, Otuaro, who chairs the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, called for patience on the part of the people, with assurances that the government was on top of the situation.
Otuaro agreed that the “livelihood sources of the people have been so impacted by illegal bunkering activities that have despoiled the area.
“On behalf of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, we would do something about your catalogue of requests. We may not be able to do all but we will interface and deepen discussions with your leaders and know what to prioritize going into the next budgetary preparations,” the Deputy Governor said.
The protesters in their presentation had stated that “It is obvious that government is making partial efforts at stopping illegal bunkering activities in our area. Nevertheless, the approach of burning recovered stolen petroleum products by the military has caused more harm than good. Our environment has been degraded, polluted and devastated due to illegal bunkering and related activities.
“Some of the health challenges and complications suffered due to petroleum hydrocarbons in our waters include but not limited to renal (kidney) failure, skin rashes and irritations, respiratory system disorders, miscarriages in women, infertility and childhood/birth defects.”
The Olero Field communities in a memo of demands made available to the Deputy Governor called for the immediate stoppage of the burning of stolen and illegal petroleum products on their rivers, supply of drinkable water, secondary and tertiary health facilities to address health challenges from pollution and training on fish pond farming and use of trawlers.