Nigerian authorities say the country
loses about $2.5 billion annually to gas flaring, while thousands of
people in and around the oil-rich Delta region live in grinding
poverty. The authorities have promised to set a deadline for oil firms
operating in the area to stop the practice. Environmental watchdog groups
say the flaring of gas has further polluted the region's water, air
and farmlands. They also report a significant increase in birth defects.
Karikpo is programs manager with the group Environmental Rights Action. He says
the government is unlikely to follow through on its latest pledge to end gas
flaring in the area.
is cheap. As at the last time, dates have been set for gas flare-out in Nigeria
from 1965 till date and none of them have been met, so I am not too sure that
there is any seriousness attached to the new statement by government that it
intends to reduce gas flares to the barest minimum." He says, "I think the
government and the oil companies are still playing the blame game, pointing at
each other for not doing what they are supposed to be doing."
says greed by oil firms and government officials is responsible for not
reducing gas flaring. "We've talked about this, we've discussed it and analyzed
why the government and oil companies have failed to come to a common ground. I
think it is an issue of the fact that the two parties benefit from the flaring.
I think it is a symbiotic relationship that benefits the government and oil
Karikpo says living in the areas
affected is challenging. "It is terrible. I took some people from the U.S. to
visit some of these communities not too far from Port Harcourt, and they could
not believe what they saw -- the noise, the heat, the pollution, especially the
rain and other pollutants that come out of it and the cancer-causing
ingredients in the soil. I think it is terrible."