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Awoye Community Cries Out For Help Over Raging Ororo-1 Oil Well Inferno

...As Makoko residents alert to continuing existential threats

By Edu Abade

Residents of Awoye Community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have cried out to the state and Federal Government to save them from extinction and total annihilation from the impact of the raging Ororo-1 oil well fire that had continued to burn for over three and half years since May 2020.

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 Representatives of the community, who spoke at the Ororo-1 Documentary Screening and Policy Dialogue organised by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) with support of the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) in Lagos, lamented the negative impact on their lives and livelihoods since the fire broke out from the abandoned facility over 42 months ago.

 A resident of Awoye, Temilorun Ajemisogbe, who said he has been a fisherman for decades as he began his fishing career as a child with his late father, revealed that since the fire disaster on the Awoye coast, they no longer catch fish as they used to, adding that life has become miserable for the fishermen in the community.

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Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, HOMEF

  Narrating their ordeal, he said: “These days, we have to sail for over five hours and for between five and seven kilometers into the sea before we can catch some small amount of fish. Life has become unbearable as we do not have any other occupation. And to make matters worse, the raging waters have been destroying our houses so much that we now squat with neigbours.

 “It so bad that between five and seven persons now squat in a room, due to the dire situation we have found ourselves in. We are suffering and dying and so we call on the government to come to our aid to avert a humanitarian disaster in Awoye. The Ororo-1 inferno has completely destroyed our community. We plead with the authorities to quench the fire and save us urgently.”

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 Another resident of Awoye, Bilikisu Abegunde, who lamented the impact of the fire disaster said the once vibrant, peaceful and modestly prosperous, whose economic mainstay was fishing and farming has lost its serenity to the raging inferno, which has been neglected for over three years.

 “We no longer harvest healthy crops from our farms and our fishermen no toil at sea without the desirable catch that used to be the case before fire started. Awoye is burning and we are in a very serious dilemma. We call on the oil companies that own the facility and the government to act fast and save us from extinction,” she said.

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 Other members of the community, of Ilaje and Egun stock, who spoke at the event also lamented the sorry state and parlous condition under which they have been subjected to live, adding that it was a shame for the government to have remained indifferent to the plight of the community almost four years after the fire broke out.

 Also, residents of Makoko Community in Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State lamented the continued threats to their existence, saying that in spite of the local and international interventions for the Lagos State Government to stop dredging the community with a view to evicting them from their ancestral home, agents of the state government were bent on carrying out their plans.

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 However, a representative of the Department of Fisheries, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Uthman Olalekan, made a case for the state government, saying that he was not aware of plans by the state government to forcibly evict genuine property owners and taxpayers from their homes at Makoko, maintaining that residents must put in place proper deeds and Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os) before building in any part of the state.

 Speaking, Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said it was a crime to allow local communities to suffer such neglect and environmental hazards due to equipment failure of oil companies, insisting that the companies must bear the liabilities of their activities while the communities should be fully compensated for the infractions being experienced.

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 On his part, Executive Director of HOMEF, Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, who pointed out that a critical look at the things happening in our environment also largely affect our lives and how we live, insisted that Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, TotalEnergis, Aiteo have been extracting oil and gas in the country, especially in the Niger Delta with impunity.

He lamented that the National Oil Spills Detection and Remediation Agency (NOSDRA) reported that there had been over 800 spills in the Niger Delta Region in the last two years alone, adding that serious damage was being done to the environment without holding the International Oil Companies (IOCs) accountable.

 Bassey, who chided oil companies for failure to maintain their facilities, oil wells and flow stations, insisted that the situation had led to the fire incidents of the Ororo-1 well magnitude in Awoye, Ondo State, adding it was unfortunate and a crimes that after a promise to stop the fire within six weeks, the inferno was still raging for over three and half years.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600, hubitokoria@gmail.com

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