Rivers community laments neglect despite hosting 48 oil wells
Resident of Joinkrama clan in Ahoada West Council of Rivers State have expressed worries over the level of environmental degradation, poverty, and neglect in the area, despite having 48 oil wells, operated by multinational companies.
The community plays host to Adibawa Oilfield, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited. The community is ravaged by poverty, environmental degradation and neglect, with inaccessible roads, cut off by flood and erosion.
Some residents, who spoke with The Guardian during Community Diagnostic Dialogue on the issues of oil pollution, organised by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), lamented that Orashi River, which serves as their major source of water, is highly polluted with crude.
A member of the community, Azaga Ovie-Oniso Kelvin, said: “Our rivers are highly polluted and the river crosses from one community to another. The roofing sheets are all brownish. What we want is for the oil company operating here to mitigate the effects of their operations in the community.
“We have written letters to Shell, Agip and others, including their local contractor but unfortunately, they don’t listen. They only listen to violence and because we are peaceful people, they keep taking us for a ride.”
Another resident, Mrs. Avigien Ubileoniso Goodwill, said poverty is clearly written on the faces of Joinkrama residents.
“The 2022 flood really dealt with us, our crops were all destroyed and we all were rendered homeless. The oil companies are not helping matters, even the access road is completely broken.
“The oil company should repair our only access road because the road is very important. Our graduates have been reduced to peasant farmers because there is no employment. There are no benefits at all from the oil company, we are still drinking from Orashi River.”
Environmentalist and Director of HOMEF, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, described Joinkrama as a geographical laboratory for the study of environmental problems, ranging from flood, gas flaring and oil spills.