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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs