Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Niger Delta oil spills: will the blame game end?

17 November 2011

By Hélène Michaud

 “Where’s the fish? There’s no fish in this water”. Chief St. Emmanuel Pii is afraid he will never see his community in the Niger Delta back the way it was before. A lively little harbour in the Niger Delta, with fish and shellfish in abundance. In 2008, hundreds, if not thousands of barrels of spilt crude oil landed there.

By Hélène Michaud, Ogoniland

It is low tide and easy to see that the rich mangrove forest adorning the river’s ramifications, is dead. Black. The river bed: black, covered with a thick layer of oil, as far as we can see on the horizon. The staunch. The drinking water undrinkable, with some toxic chemicals at unimaginable levels.

Bodo is a rural fishing community of around 70 thousand people that can no longer fish. Near the harbour, I meet two shy 18- year- olds, Daniel and Thorance.

With the fishing, they used to pay their school fees. Today, a car full of goods came. They and ten other boys rushed to see if they could be hired to help unload it. Otherwise they hang around with nothing to do. “We dropped out of school.”

Shell has admitted responsibility for the tragedy and is required to clean up the mess and pay compensation. Three years later, nothing has happened, the chief says, pointing at the devastated landscape.

“Shell has been given us deaf ear. They’re after their profit. They don’t care about human life”.

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