By Akanimo Sampson
Residents of oil-polluted communities in Kolo Creek, Bayelsa State, have started to ring an alarm on their health conditions.
Angelina Ngeribo, says “there is crude oil on our drinking water source. This is affecting us in many ways.’’
According to her, ‘’there is no way to even bathe in the creek again. Some of those who dared to go in, come out from the creek with oily substances on their bodies. We are suffering as a result of the current condition of the river.
“When we are paddling in our canoes, all our hands, our chest, clothes get soiled with crude oil including our canoes”, says Angelina Ngeribo.
As a result, Kolo Creek communities are crying out for urgent humanitarian assistance, claiming that they are suffering from the harmful effects of oil pollution.
Accordingly, they are appealing to their state government and the Niger Delta Joint Task Force to save them from continued harm.
Fourteen communities in the area have been receiving crude as a fallout of activities of illegal artisanal refiners with the worst polluted being Otuasega, Imiringi, Yiba-ama and Ibelebiri.
They are lamenting that the illegal oil refining camps had impacted the Kolo Creek, which is their only source of drinking water.
Some community leaders in a field report released on Monday by the Environmental Rights Action (ERA), endorsed by an official of the environmental rights group, Morris Alagoa, say residents of the polluted communities are currently helpless.
“The main subject of discussion is how to stop the activities causing the Kolo Creek to be so polluted.
‘’But our fear is that anybody within this area that champions moves aimed at stopping the local refining will be attacked by those perpetrating the act.
“So, our resolution is that we are going to approach the operators and owners of the crude oil refining camps to tell them not to allow the crude oil to come down to the Kolo River.
“They should look for a way, either to dig a pit where the residue of their operations could be directed and later burnt off.
“We are concerned about the health of our people. However, the government is bigger than the polluters, and our communities will support efforts of the government to remediate the environment”, the report says.
Meanwhile, Agnes Ibugom, another resident says they can no longer bathe in the creek or fetch water for domestic uses, stressing that the situation had made life difficult for them.