By Aminu Imam with agency report
Oil giant, Shell, has finally paid out a long-overdue compensation to a community devastated by oil spills in the Niger Delta, said Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development yesterday.
According to Amnesty, Shell’s long-overdue compensation pay out is an important victory for the victims of corporate negligence.
Six years after two oil spills destroyed thousands of livelihoods in the Bodo area, legal action in the UK has driven Shell to make an out-of-court settlement of 55 million pounds to compensate the affected community.
The amount, according to the report, will be split between 35 million pounds for 15,600 individuals and 20 million pounds for the community.
While the pay-out is a long awaited victory for the thousands of people who lost their livelihoods in Bodo, it shouldn’t have taken six years to get anything close to fair compensation, said Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, Audrey Gaughran.
Hundreds of oil spills from Shell’s pipelines occur every year.
Shell repeatedly blames illegal activity in the Niger Delta for most oil pollution but its claims have been discredited in research by Amnesty International and CEHRD.
Shell has always accepted that the two 2008 Bodo oil spills were the fault of failures on the company’s pipeline at Bodo, but publicly and repeatedly claimed that the volume of oil spilt was approximately 4,000 barrels for both spills combined, even though the spills went on for weeks.
In 2012, Amnesty International, using an independent assessment of video footage of the first oil spill, calculated that the total amount of oil split exceeded 100,000 barrels for this spill alone. The wait has taken its toll on Bodo residents, many of whom had their fishing and farming livelihoods destroyed in the spill. Throughout this time, they have had to live with the ongoing pollution and, without compensation, many have faced grinding poverty.
The compensation is a step towards justice for the people of Bodo, but justice will be fully achieved when Shell properly cleans up the heavily polluted creeks and swamps so that those who rely on fishing and farming for their income can begin to rebuild their livelihoods, said Director of Programmes of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Styvn Obodoekwe.
“I am very happy that Shell has finally taken responsibility for its action”, says Pastor Christian Kpandei, a Bodo fish farmer, whose fish farm was destroyed by the oil spill. I’d like to thank the lawyers for compelling Shell to make this unprecedented move.