We’ve lost 600 persons to pollution caused by Total – Rivers communities

THE PUNCH

THE people of Nvakohia Rumuekpe comprising Ovelle, Imogu and Ekwutche communities in Rivers State have decried the devastation of their environment allegedly caused by the operations of Total E&P Nigeria Limited and demanded N800bn compensation.

The demand was made by the chiefs, community development committees and other stakeholders in a joint press conference in conjunction with Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

The Executive Director, TIFPI, Livingstone Wechie, who read a written statement on their behalf, said Total had operated in the area for 60 years leaving behind environment degradation caused by oil spills and other health hazards.

They vowed to report their travails to all known international human rights bodies.

Wechie alleged that the resulting health hazards claimed the lives of over 600 persons in the past 10 years, adding that people continued to die from the operations of the oil and gas firm.

He said, “We are demanding N800bn compensation for all the environmental degradation we have suffered in our communities in the past 60 years without which we will be compelled to shut down Total activities.

“We have lost over 600 persons arising from health issues because of their exploration activities in the last 10 years now.”

Wechie said Total should be made to do the needful by answering as well as addressing, compensating for its corporate negligence and injustice, adding that the company should address all the issues as soon as possible.

On his part, the Chairman, Nvakaoha Council of Chiefs, Eze Dennis Orji, said the oil firm had rejected them and had failed to carry out remediation of their devastated environment.

However, efforts to reach Country Communication Manager, Total Companies in Nigeria, Charles Ebereonwu, proved unsuccessful as he neither picked his calls nor replied a text message sent to his mobile at the time of filing this report.

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