The Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN) is happy with the National Assembly for recommending a $3.96 billion (N653.4 billion) compensation for the December, 2011 oil spill from Bonga oil fields in Bayelsa.
House of Representatives Committee on Environment, led by Rep. Uche Ekwunife , last week endorsed a compensation of $3.96 recommended by the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
The House had mandated Shell Nigeria Production and Exploration Company (SNEPCO) to compensate communities affected by the oil spill from its Bonga fields.
Dr Idris Musa, Director at NOSDRA, was quoted as saying that about 40,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean and polluted the waters, compelling fishermen to suspend fishing.
Rev. Samuel Ayadi, the Coordinator of the association in Niger Delta said that the recommendation was a welcome development, commending NOSDRA for its painstaking efforts in conducting impact studies on the oil spillage and making its report a basis for the House committee to arrive at a favourable conclusion.
He said that the House’s decision had rekindled the hope of fishermen affected by the oil spillage, noting that about 6,000 members of the association were compelled to suspend fishing activities for more than three months to pave way for clean up.
Ayadi urged the management of SNEPCO to pay the compensation to resolve the compensation issue.
”We have cried to the government, and we are happy that the National Assembly responded by bringing Shell to the negotiation table to resolve all pending compensation issues,” Ayadi said.
The coordinator said that the Bonga oil spillage had led to scarcity of fish.
”Due to that spill, we could no longer get ‘Bonga’ fish because those fish that survived the spill have migrated into the deeper ocean where the artisan fishermen cannot reach.
”We look forward to the compensation so that we can come back to business, now that the waters have been cleansed,” he said.
Photo By Leon Watson