Twelve months after the UN called for a huge clean-up of oil pollution in southern Nigeria, its Environment Programme says it is pleased the government has decided to take action.
After weeks of negotiations, a restoration project is to be set up in Ogoniland. The UN’s report found that the region could take 30 years to recover.
Frequent oil spills are said to have depleted fish species in rivers and caused widespread contamination to farmland – to the anger of local people.
“As I speak to you, from 2010 until now, nothing has been done to remedy the situation,” said John Inedan, a resident of Bodo in the Nigerian Delta.
Following recent spills, the oil company Shell has been taken to court in Britain by lawyers representing local people in Ogoniland.
“What we are waiting for is the judgment at the London court, and if it doesn’t go the way we expect we will think of some other means,” said Patt Kpobari, Bodo Community’s youth president. “I think they (the government) are in the payroll of the oil company and not representing us well.”
Sabotage and oil theft have contributed to pollution in the Niger Delta.
Shell has admitted blame over previous oil spills that caused pollution in Bodo in 2008. But it denies responsibility for offshore pollution last year, which brought a demand by Nigeria’s oil regulator for four billion euros in compensation.
Amnesty International says the company’s own investigations are a “fiasco” and alleges that pipes have become corroded due to poor maintenance.