The Artisan Fishermen of Nigeria (ARFAN), Niger Delta Region, has demanded N4.32 billion compensation from Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co. (SNEPCo) for five states impacted by oil spill in the region.
The Association’s Secretary and Niger Delta Coordinator, Elder Inyang Ekong, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Eket, Akwa Ibom..
He said that the claims and compensation were necessary due to the extent and impact of the spill on the people of the region. SNEPCo on the Bonga oil spill located offshore Nigeria, estimates that about 40,000 barrels of crude oil escaped into the Atlantic Ocean on Dec 20, 2011.
Ekong said that the oil spill had caused untold hardship to the fishing communities and to the association members in the region.
“We have written and nothing has been done for us, we are still waiting and we went on consultation and still nothing is happening.
“Up till today, we have not received any positive response from the regulators nor from the Federal Government. We have been so weak and sorrowful because our members are frustrated by the oil spill that cut across the whole Niger Delta Region,” Ekong said.
According to him, the effect of the oil spill has thrown the fishermen in all the states of the Region into “a very big confusion’’.
Ekong said that sea weeds had been noticed on the ocean floor from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo and Rivers, adding that the development has resulted in the scarcity of fish in the area.
According to him, the massive depletion of sea weeds has lead to scarcity of fish and sardine in the market.
“The effect of the oil spill was such that sea weeds were removed from the ocean bed up to the surface of the water. When the fishermen go out for fishing, they catch sea weeds instead of fish and their nets are affected by the spill equally.
“”About 200 Akwa Ibom fishermen died as a result of starvation and hunger caused by the oil spill in the region in the last two years”.
Ekong said that the Association had send delegates to meet with the NOSDRA, at the headquarters, Abuja on effect of Bonga oil spill to members but to no avail.
He said that Akwa Ibom was the worst hit during the oil spill in the region, saying that fishermen in the state had to go beyond the boundaries with other countries in search of fish to sustain their livelihood.
He appealed to the Federal Government, Stakeholders, Regulators and good spirited individuals to come to their aid, lamenting that fishermen had been deprived of their occupation.
“We spent N800,000 to bail five fishermen from the hands of Cameroonians who seized our members’ boats and engine in February this year. We are appealing to Federal Government, Shell Company and NOSDRA to look into the hardship caused by the oil spill on our members in the region.”