Sea level, strange weeds threaten Bayelsa coastal towns

Anxiety has heightened in more than 50 coastal communities of Bayelsa State over the soaring sea level and strange plants.

The predominantly marshy and low-lying state has the longest coastal shoreline in the country.

Among the troubled communities are Brass, which is host to one of the nation’s oil export terminal, Koluama 1 and 2, part of which has been lost to the sea; Ekeni, Fishtown, Foropah, Ezetu 1 and 2, Sangana and Agge on the western flank of the state.

For the natives of these communities, fishing is no longer a lucrative business due to pollution.

It was learned that the fishermen, instead of harvesting fish, were contending with strange weeds, which most times, destroy their fishing gears.

Ebinyon Kuro, a resident of one of the communities, told Niger Delta Voice: “This is certainly not the best of times for our people.

“You go deep into the sea and instead of coming home with good catch, you return with strange weeds which are destroying our nets.”

Disturbed by the plight of the communities, a group, National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in the Niger Delta, NACGOND, had threatened to drag oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, to the International Court of Justice over failure to pay adequate compensation to the people in the wake of the company’s rig explosion of 2012, which destroyed their environment.

The national coordinator of the coalition, Father Edward Obi, lamented that the palliative promised by Mr. President when he visited months after the blowout occurred, have not materialized, leaving the people in sorrow and pains.

He said: “Daily, the people are dying slowly from the consequence of the blowout.

“It caused a mini quake in sea bed, which made fishing activities difficult along the coast line.

“All we hear is tale of woes. The people have almost lost their livelihood. They can no longer fish and expect anything near their previous catch.”

Environmental activist, Alagoa Morris of the Environmental Right Action, ERA, who called for urgent action to safeguard the communities, said: “This is why we are sending a clear message to Chevron that they cannot run from accountability for their environmental crimes in the Niger Delta region.”

He also called on the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, to intervene by setting up a technical committee aimed at seeking proper redress and adequate compensation for the hapless communities that have continued to bear the aftermath of the explosion.

“The governor should reignite his initial passion against Chevron’s attitude on what he termed environmental terrorism,” he added.

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