Tension in Bayelsa community over oil spill flame

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By David Kemelayefa

There was crude oil spill that made infernos  on the Emeyal I and II axis of the Kolo Creek in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on August 18, causing untold panic among residents of the communities.

The State School I in Emeyal 2, located by the Kolo Creek, for several hours, was left in the hands of the flames that destroyed aquatic lives and farm lands along the bank of the creek.

The vice chairman of Emeyal 2 Community Development Committee (CDC), Ranami-Ayama Igobasi said members of the communities were yet to know the cause of the fire.

“We don’t know what caused the fire. All of a sudden we saw the fire, and it started burning and burning. We had to call fire service (in Yenagoa). They came and tried to quench it, otherwise it would have been worse,” Igobasi said.

Our reporter gathered that “The paramount ruler of Emeyal 2 community, Chief Jacob Igbigi lamented the impact of the fire outbreak and appealed to the federal and state governments, the SPDC, and other relevant authorities to come to their aide.

“The national president of Obhan-Emeyal Youth Council, Efere Azibator accused Shell of negligence and called on the oil company to act quickly and send relief materials to the communities.

“A resident of Kolo community, Jasmine Okar, said that efforts by residents to put out the fire were frustrated by the wet terrain which made quick interventions difficult.

“He said members of the communities watched helplessly as the crude burnt out on the surface of the waters.

Okar said: “It is the water channel that has been blocked by debris from the Orashi River. The crude comes from sites where they do illegal oil refining activities very far from Emeyal.

“Due to the blockage of the channel, the crude piled up and formed layers, and it caught fire in a strange way.

“We placed a distress call but the fire service did not respond. It got to a stage where the residents near the fire started moving away but we thank God that it burnt out.”

However, GbaramatuVoice gathered that “SPDC has dismissed the insinuation that the fire outbreak from the mass of crude oil on the Kolo Creek resulted from its operations.”