Niger Deltans have called on oil companies operating in the region to develop mechanisms to halt continuous environmental pollution.
Stakeholders made this known at a town hall meeting tagged “Advancing Community Capacity for Environmental Protection and Management”.
Speaking respectively on the “role of community in environmental protection and management” and “negative impacts of environmental pollution”, were two resource persons, a Geography lecturer with the Niger Delta University and chairman, Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Bayelsa State chapter, Dr Charles Oyibo and Executive director, Mac-Jim Foundation, Mr Godson Jim-Dorgu.
The speakers were unanimous in their view that the peoples’ traditional means of livelihood, especially fishing and farming, had been adversely affected by the environmental degradation caused by actions and inactions of the government and oil firms.
They also said that the oil-related activities of the youths have contributed to an increasing and alarming proportion of environmental degradation in the region.
“We are worried that youths of the region, instead of preaching against environmental pollution, have joined the fray by carrying out oil bunkering and local refining in the creeks.
“The Joint Task Force deployed in the region by the government to secure oil facilities and arrest perpetrators has been using fire to destroy containers of illegally refined petroleum products and equipment seized from bunkrers and artisan refiners, thereby causing further damage to the environment.”
They therefore, stressed the need for oil companies to ensure oil spills were cleaned up properly with adequate compensation paid to affected communities.
Furthermore, they appealed to the government to “stop gas flaring and clean up the Niger Delta as recommended by the UNEP report”, and “enact good environmental laws” to protect the environment.
They also urged communities to engage in activities such as planting of trees and desist from harmful practices like improper disposal of wastes.