Against the backdrop of the fire that erupted from an oil well belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited last month in Ondo State, the affected communities have demanded a sum of $2.5bn as compensation from the oil company.
The fire incident, which engulfed the oil well at the Ojumole area in Ilaje Local Government Area of the state, was said to have affected about 10 communities.
The representative of the affected communities, Dr Akin Akinruntan, in a paper presented on behalf of the communities, made the demand at a stakeholders’ meeting with the representatives of the CNL.
The stakeholders meeting was organised by the Ondo State House of Assembly’s ad hoc committee on the fire outbreak.
Akinruntan, who diisclosed that the fire was yet to be put out, said the compensation was imperative in order to cushion the effects of the inferno on the lives of the residents of the affected area.
He said, “The implications of the incident on the people of the affected area is enormous; it has destroyed the land and nothing can grow on it.
“The people of the affected communities don’t have portable water to drink; the water there is not drinkable. Fishing is the major occupation of the people there and since the incident happened, people can no longer go for fishing because the water has been polluted.
“The inferno has also affected the climate which could later cause health challenges for the people of the area. So, we demand a sum of $2.5bn from Chevron as compensation. We also demand that Chevron should do a clean-up in the affected areas.”
In his response, the General Manager, Policy Government and Public Affairs, CNL, Mr Esimaje Brikinn, said the company had taken necessary steps to put the fire under control.
He said, “Chevron is currently working with emergency response contractors to safely put out the fire as quickly as possible.”
Brikinn, who explained that the company had already been discussing with some representatives of the affected communities on the matter, said many members of the communities were benefitting from the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives of the company.
“Our activities will be consistent with the relevant environmental laws, regulations and guidelines. We will continue to conduct our operation safely, reliably and efficiently, with utmost consideration for the people and the environment,” he added.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Mr Bamidele Oloyeloogun, expressed the displeasure of the House over the incident, urging Chevron to be more proactive on putting out the fire.
The speaker said the members of the House would visit the scene of the incident and adjourned the meeting till after the return of the legislators from the scene.