The Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria on Wednesday, appealed to Shell Petroleum Development Company to pay its members N433 billon as compensation for depriving them of their livelihood.
Mr Samuel Ayandi, the Chairman and Coordinating Chair, Niger-Delta Region of the association, made the call when he led a delegation to pay an advocacy visit to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Ayandi said that members of the association numbering about 30,000 were compelled to leave their sources of livelihood, which is fishing, due to the Bonga oil spill.
NAN recalls that the Bonga oil spill, with a loss of 35,000 barrels, occurred on Dec. 20, 2011, during a routine export operation to transfer crude oil from Bonga’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO).
NAN learnt that since the disaster, economic activities have been at their lowest ebb because fishermen and farmers can no longer engage in their businesses.
Meanwhile, a pressure group, the Conference of Niger Delta Youths Representatives, claimed that the spill affected five states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo and Rivers states.
Ayandi said that the association was demanding compensation for loss income and deprivation fee covering the nine months they were formally directed to withdraw from fishing activities due to the pollution of the waters.
He said that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had directed the members from the five states to withdraw from fishing that period and that they complied with the directive.
“We depend on fishing and without fishing, we do not have any occupation to do again; that is why we are appealing to the appropriate authorities and the Federal Government to come to our aid.
“ We thank the National Assembly and NOSDRA for their support so far; they have directed Shell to pay the compensation to our members so that they can to go back to fishing.
“They have also directed them to come and do proper cleaning up of the affected communities because they have not done it properly.
“What they did was that they used powerful chemicals to treat the spills which made it sink the oil inside the water so the oil is still there,’’ he said.
However, Mr Peter Idabor, NOSDRA’s Director-General confirmed to NAN that shell had already applied ‘dispersant’ on the spill in the affected areas.
The chairman further said that the ‘Bonga fish’ common in the affected states was now absent from the waters, expressing regrets that Nigeria now imports the fish.
In addition, he said that the activities at the fishing terminals at Igbokoda in Ondo State and that of Ibowo in Akwa Ibom had gone moribund.
Responding, Mr Lawal Ado, the Managing Editor in Charge of the states and Metropolitan Desk at NAN, assured the association of the agency’s support in projecting the activities of the association.
“ We are all Nigerians in spite of one’s tribe and region; so what affects you, affects the whole country.
“Your plight is ours; I am assuring you on behalf of the Managing Director, that NAN will continue to do more in covering your plight.
“We will do justice in reporting the suffering of your members,’’ he said.