By Aminah Carew
Artisanal Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), a group of Fishermen from the Niger Delta region have urged the federal government to prevail on Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) Limited to pay the $3.6 billion fine imposed by the oil industry regulators over the 2011 Bonga oilfield spill or face a showdown.
The fishermen also demanded that the federal government compensate them for shutting down their trade during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, saying they were yet to recover from the impact of the lockdown on the fisheries sector, as they were excluded from the palliatives given to the agriculture sector during the lockdown.
The Coordinator of ARFAN in the Niger Delta region, Rev. Samuel Ayadi, told journalists in Yenagoa yesterday that another lockdown following the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic would be unbearable for fishermen.
Ayadi said fishermen suffered seriously since 2011 when an equipment failure from the Bonga offshore field operated by SNEPC discharged some 40,000 barrels of crude into the water.
“On December 20, 2011, during loading of crude oil at Bonga fields within OML 118 situated at 120 kilometres off the Atlantic coastline, the export line ruptured and discharged crude oil into the sea,” he stated.
The export line, according to a Joint Investigation Report by National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and SNEPCO, spewed about 40,000 barrels (6.4 million litres) of crude oil into the sea.
Ayadi, therefore, appealed to the federal government to prevail on Shell to pay the NOSDRA imposed fine for the oil spill so that fishermen who lost their occupation can recover from the effect.