Residents at Imiringi, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, have lamented blockage of natural water channels by oil and gas exploration activities at nearby oilfields.
The residents, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said on Monday that the indiscriminate activities have also created artificial channels, resulting to flooding of farmlands and plantain plantations in the area.
Chief Rotami Ademe, a member of the Olugbo family of Imiringi, who was affected, said exploration activities at the oil field have created ecological problems that are negatively affecting their farmlands.
“As Shell started work, it affected our farms, plantations. The natural creeks were blocked and so all our crops were damaged. The canal dug by Daewoo, as instructed by Shell, and the blocking of the natural water channels prevented free flow of water.
“This led to our farms being waterlogged which resulted in the destruction of our crops. Farming is my main means of livelihood.
“As water no longer flows as it used to in the environment owing to the canal and blocking of natural water channels by Daewoo, my farm became waterlogged and that damaged my plantain," he said.
Stating that oil and gas activities had negatively affected the ecosystem in the area, Ranami Afagha, a former Vice-Chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) of Imiringi, said: “Daewoo working for Shell has had two major projects in Imiringi environment in recent times. The first one was a pipeline that heads from Olugbo family land to parts of Rivers State, and the second one is the recent one they just ended last December at the gas gathering plant on my family land.
“Yes, I am aware that Daewoo operations at the Olugbo family land caused a lot of damage to farmlands because they blocked a lot of natural waterways. Till date, those natural waterways and creeks are still blocked.”
A field report by the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) noted that oil and gas exploration operation contributed negatively to the environment.
Alagoa Morris, ERA’s Head of Field Operations, in the report, stated that creating a canal and deliberately blocking several natural water channels in the environment had distorted the natural ecosystem, noting that reaction of victims showed clearly that the issue is a matter of survival and defence of their environmental rights as contained in Article 24 of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager, Shell Petroleum Development Company is yet to respond to requests for reaction on the development.