Bayelsa Women lament environmental Pollution

By Afahame Bassey , Yenagoa

Worried over threats to Niger Delta environment and consequent crisis of air pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change due to years of oil exploration, some women in Niger Delta region have solicited the help of Journalists to create awareness about the predicaments faced by various communities in the region.

Commenting on the theme of the 2024 World Press Freedom Day: “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis”, the women under the auspices of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, said there is a threat to sustainable development in the Niger Delta, as farmlands and various rivers channels have been polluted by the activities of oil multinationals.

Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Dr Emem Okon and other stakeholders in struggle to preserved environmental pollution, said in a statement in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital recently stated that information about ecosystem and how to protect it is very crucial.

She said: “This is the reason Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre uses the
occasion of the World Press Freedom Day to provide update on key environmental injustice in Rivers state and other states in Niger Delta region. This is necessary to prevent misinformation and disinformation by people who do not understand the issues.

“The theme of the 2024 World Press Freedom Day is “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis” and it is dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the
current global environmental crisis.

“In view of this, Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, with her allied organizations present the environmental pollution issues in Ibaa and Obelle communities in Emohua local
government area and Aminigboko community in Abua/Odual local government area.

“In 2016, people in Chukwure family compound discovered that their hand dug well was filled with crude oil instead of water that it was producing until that fateful
period, the case was reported to the Shell, who operate in the locality. The family has been worried and concerned over their fate living in such level of pollution. Part of the response by Shell to advocacy efforts to get justice for
the family was sealing off the affected well.

“A visit to the site on May 2, 2024
showed that some family still live with the pollution. The family wants to be relocated to somewhere safe and secured environment and compensation paid for damages so far suffered by family members.

“Obelle community of Emuoha Local Government Area, Rivers State, is one of the
sites where Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) carries out its oil
extraction activities. In 1998 the well-4 head operated by Shell erupted with gas fire,
burning over thirty hectares expands of land, in the community for about 3 months. And after burning for some weeks, SPDC added some chemicals to control it. The chemicals were washed into the community’s aquifer, resulting to impacts on the people’s health and their source of livelihood.

“ The only solution proffered by SPDC was to acquire these lands without alternative provision for farming. There was no
compensation made to the community and the people have suffered untold hardship
as a result of the insufficient land to carry out their farming activities and women are the worst hit in terms of displacement.

“Kebetkache in 2022 had conducted an environmental and socio-economic assessment in Ibaa community, and the key findings from the field revealed
a widespread crude oil contamination in the seven groundwater and four oil samples covering a radius of about 6KM. based on the risk associated with undue exposure to crude oil contamination, the assessment recommended as an emergency measure that the impacted families and others within 1500m across the pipeline right of way be relocated to safe locations within the community, provision of safe drinking water for the community and the rectification of the cause of the leakage in addition to other long term remedies.

“Kebetkache is therefore using this medium to call on the government, global community, SPDC, regulatory agencies and relevant stakeholders to take urgent action to address these issues.” She said.

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