From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Indigenes and residents of Oshimiri Omoviri village in Rumuekpe community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers state, have lamented over a fresh oil spillage in their land
They cried that the spill have destroyed their river, and farm crops.
Although the source of the leakage is not discovered, as efforts by the National oil Spill, Dectation and Response Agency(NOSDRA), to unravel the source of the spillage in the environment of a non oil producing community have proved abortive.
But the community believe the source of the spillage is around their river bank and appealed to the Governments and oil companies to come and help them unravel the mystery, clean up the mess and possibly take on the job of extracting the oil from their soil, to better the lives of the community and the people.
The community leaders spoke when a Civil Society Organization (CSO), “Social Development Integrated Centre(Social Action), led some Journalists in the state to Oshimiri Omoviri where the Spillage occured to see things for themselves.
The Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman, Excellent Ezeh who spoke with the journalists revealed that the problem started in 2019, but became worse early last year, stressing that all efforts to unravel the source of the spillage is still a mystery.
He appealed to both the federal and state governments, oil companies, government agencies to assist them resolve the problem that is gradually robbing them off their natural assets, adding that hardship and poverty are beginning to take a harsh toll on the community.
“We are appealing to the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, the state Governor Nyesom Wike, Oil companies in the state, federal and state government agencies to please come to our aides and help is to clean up the mess this has done to our rivet.
“This is the only source of living we have in this village, but due to this u fortunate development, we can no longer fish,bath, fetch water here for washing and drinking, life is gradually slipping off our hands here; we are appealing that anybody that can help us clean our river of this oil, so that we can have it back, is welcome and appreciated.”
The people noted various places they had gone to seek intervention to no avail; “we have gone to the Ministry of environment, the LGA chairman, we have equally gone to NOSDRA, but non of them has been able to profere any solution to us.” he regretted.
Ezeh noted that the development is beginning to affect their farm crops, adding that the other community water sources including wells and pumps have been conterminated by the oil, just as the soil no longer yields farm produce.
Pointing at the plaitian tree around he said, “look at those plaintain trees, this is raining season, instead of them to harbour fresh leafs, what they have are dying, they are growing thin and not producing, all because the soil no longer have manure.”
A community youth Chinedu who also spoke said, “Oshimiri Omoviri is our only water source, we used to bath,fish,drink from it and even scoop sand for commercial purposes,but since the oil spill, we no longer do those things.
“Life have become difficult for the youths of this community, we will really appreciate it if the government, and oil companies operating in the state can help us get to the root of this problem.” he appealed.
Mrs. Paulina ThankGod said the women are the worse hit in the situation.
“Women are suffering under this development, we no longer have drinking water, our soil no longer produce crops, vegetable are now scarce here, they do not sprout out again after planting, we hardly take out baths as women due to this ugly development, we are calling on the Governments to come and help us.” the women lamented.
However, Senior programme officer of social Action, Prince Ekpere expresses the commitment of his group in gaining justice for the people of Omoviri, stressing that apart from the hardship and hunger the situation has thrown the people into, the greatest concern of the group is to unveil the actual source of the spillage.
“The issue in this case is not the solution, but discovering the source of the problem. Social Action is interested in getting justice for Omoviri community of Rumuekpe in Emohua Local Government Area of this state.
“We are interested in working with the Governments to ensure that the source of the spill is discovered, we are interested in ensuring that the mess is cleaned up and their river returned to them.
“We call on the state and local governments to supply the community with safe and potable drinking water pending the time solution would be found and their river cleaned and restores back to normal.
“This is an agririan community, the people are farmers, including fishing, as this happened, the yeild of their farm produce have been drastically affected, their source of drinking water have been destroyed and their alternative well water equally affected by this development”, Ekpere added.