Stakeholders in the nation’s oil and gas producing communities have called on the government to strengthen the National Oil Spill and Detection Response Agency, NOSDRA to effectively monitor oil spills in the country.
The stakeholders, including leaders, women and youths who rose from a crucial conference on PIB: Pulling Together for Environmental Justice in Eket, Akwa Ibom stated that the strengthening of NOSDRA would go a long way to addressing the challenges associated with oil spills in petroleum producing areas.
They also called on the government to ensure communities are regularly sensitized to enable them be aware of development, including efforts targeted at effecting clean up.
They called for the putting in place of timelines and guidelines with regards to the settlement of compensation.
The stakeholders statedt, “There should be regulation as to when oil companies should replace dilapidated infrastructure. Gas flaring penalties should be utilized to develop affected communities.
They stated, “Standard and well equipped medical centers should be established to treat the diseases related to oil spill effects and environmental hazards. There is also need for continued awareness creation by Civil Societies should be intensified.
The stakeholders called for the relocation of operators, including Mobil, to communities where they operate in order to enable them make positive impact on the people.
They stated, “There is need to establish a standard clean up mechanism on a quarterly basis in oil producing communities. The local content office should be replicated in other oil producing states; it should not only be situated in Bayelsa State.
The stakeholders stated that the Ministers of Petroleum, Special Advisers and others should be appointed from the nation’s oil and gas producing areas.
They also said, “Host communities should be clearly defined. Many communities are impacted but disproportionately affected therefore the proximity of the impact of oil spillage should be taking into consideration when paying compensation.
“Federal government or oil companies should set up training institutes on oil related courses instead of going to Dallas to hire expatriates. Emphasis should be placed on training local youths thereby addressing the issues of unrest and unemployment.” They said.
They argued that every interest group must be effectively represented in decisions related to oil policy and programme development.
The stakeholders maintained that, “Spaces for Change must come back to Eket and give a feedback to the people. The 13per cent derivation fund should not be paid to the state as an oil royalty. A community administrative mechanism should be established to manage the fund.
They stated that Spaces for Change or NOSDRA should carry out regular sensitization of communities on issues relating to gas flaring while communities should be supported in their demands for fair compensation and oil company compliance with regulations.
They maintained that, “It is incumbent on oil companies to observe best environmental standards and practices. Oil companies should adopt international best practices as observed in other Western countries. There should be provision of an alternative livelihood for those whose livelihood has been affected by oil spillage and gas flaring.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.