The coastal communities along the Ogboinbiri River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa have urged oil firms operating in the area to provide them with potable water, having polluted their source of clean water.
Chief Columbus John-Bull, Chairman, Community Development Committee (CDC), Keme-Ebiama, one of the affected communities, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ogoinbiri on Sunday.
According to John-Bull, an oil leak recently occurred in the area and polluted the Ogboinbiri River, a major source of water to Keme-Ebiama, Apoi, Kokologbene, Gbaruan, Ukubie and Lobia communities. He said that the oil leak from Seibou Deep facility, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), discharged crude into the river and was yet to be remediated. According to him, the people could no longer source drinking water from the river because of the pollution.
He said that the communities depended on the river for drinking water and domestic use.
John-Bull said the operations of Shell and Agip, another oil firm in the area, frequently polluted the river and made the water unsafe for drinking and domestic use.
“We are host communities to the oil firms that pollute our only source of water and this is regrettable. Whenever a spill occurs, the oil spreads along the rivers, right from the Ogboinbiri axis to our own river and makes the water undrinkable.
“It is so devastating that our people can no longer go to the river and take their bath or fetch drinking water. The river is our main source of drinking water and water for every other domestic use. The cost of sachet water in the community rises from N10 to N30 whenever a spill occurs and this happens very often.
“Most of our people cannot afford the sachet water at that price. We are very much worried of what the situation may lead to. Recently there was an outbreak of cholera in some communities in the local government area because of such pollution,” John-Bull said.
John-Bull also alleged that Agip which operates a flow station in the area often dumped waste into the river.
Mr Filippo Cotalini, the spokesperson of Eni, the parent company of Nigerian Agip Oil Company, said that the oil firm was investigating the allegation but declined comments on the people’s request for potable water.