News / Africa

Niger Delta Communities Pressure Shell on 2011 Oil Spill

Niger Delta Communities Pressure Shell on 2011 Oil Spilli
X
Heather Murdock
March 17, 2014 9:51 PM
Local leaders in the Niger Delta want to unite competing communities to pressure Shell Petroleum to pay billions of dollars in reparations and clean up of fishing areas they say were wasted in a 2011 oil spill. Shell disputes the claim, maintaining the spill never hit Nigerian shores or damaged the fishing industry. Heather Murdock reports for VOA from the Niger Delta.
Heather Murdock
Local leaders in the Niger Delta want to unite competing communities to pressure Shell Petroleum to pay billions of dollars in reparations and clean up of fishing areas they say were wasted in a 2011 oil spill. Shell disputes the claim, maintaining the spill never hit Nigerian shores or damaged the fishing industry.

On the beach of Youbebe, a fishing community in the Niger Delta, protesters demand journalists get off the boat to hear what they have to say.

Villagers say since they lost the fishing industry, children are always hungry and often sick from drinking polluted water. (VOA PHOTO/ H. Murdock, 15 March 2014, Youbebe, Nigeria.Villagers say since they lost the fishing industry, children are always hungry and often sick from drinking polluted water. (VOA PHOTO/ H. Murdock, 15 March 2014, Youbebe, Nigeria.
x
Villagers say since they lost the fishing industry, children are always hungry and often sick from drinking polluted water. (VOA PHOTO/ H. Murdock, 15 March 2014, Youbebe, Nigeria.
Villagers say since they lost the fishing industry, children are always hungry and often sick from drinking polluted water. (VOA PHOTO/ H. Murdock, 15 March 2014, Youbebe, Nigeria.
About two million lives were devastated by the Bonga oil spill, they say, holding up water that appears to be polluted with oil. They say their children are always hungry because there are no fish to eat or sell.

“They destroyed the river so we do not get fish again," said Sia. "The river is polluted. There is no fish.”

But Shell says the spill from its Bonga oil field was cleaned up swiftly after the leak and it never harmed the communities.

The company says there was another spill from an unknown vessel shortly after the Bonga spill and Shell spent several million dollars cleaning up both spills, even though the second was not its fault.

But as the protesters shake branches as a symbol of anger, they demand humanitarian aid, payment for lost incomes, and that Shell clean up the oil, saying oil companies have been taking advantage of delta residents for decades.

On the other side of the beach, Sia shows us an oil pipeline that runs from a nearby processing plant, through the village and into the water.

“This is where the pipe passes.," said Sia "High pressure pipeline. As you can see the pipes are corroded.  If this pipe gets split now there will be oil spillage all over. There is crude passing this place.”

Other protesters lead us into their village.

There is no electricity or hospital, and young men pull more dirty water out of what looks like a spring. They drink it while photographers take pictures. The men want people to see that they are drinking water polluted with oil.

About an hour away by speedboat, in the nearest city Warri, traditional rulers say they want to negotiate with the oil company, known locally as SPDC, for the sum of $5.6 billion to compensate and clean up fishing communities.

His Royal Highness Ibamugha Ojukosin. says, “We are here as a people collectively with one voice. Let our cry be heard. Let [victims of] Bonga spill of SPDC in 20 December 2011 be adequately compensated, the communities cleaned. And let us be paid.  I would want to rest my case.”

Other leaders say Niger Delta communities have in the past failed to extract compensation from oil companies because the communities are hopelessly divided on the issue of who is and who is not owed.

At this conference in Warri, leaders and lawyers work to unite communities but some attendees say they believe that if Shell does pay, the only real beneficiaries will be the leaders.

Early this year, government agencies demanded Shell pay an $11.5 billion fine for the Bonga spill.  Shell says these fines were never levied and the company has not paid any fines associated with the Bonga spill because it is not liable "legally or otherwise."

Protesters on the beach say the issue is simpler than that. They want the company to pay up or get out.

A resident says, “The next step we take if the protest do not succeed, SPDC will leave our lands. That’s what we’ll do. And no army man can stop us.”

In the past, delta residents have rebelled against oil companies and the government. Traditional leaders say they fear more unrest in the Niger Delta if the people's concerns are not addressed.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs