Chief Howells Levi, the paramount ruler of Olobia Community, Koluama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, has appealed to the Federal Government to protect their settlements from extinction.
Levi told media personnel on Monday at Yenagoa that a violent surge had, in July 2014, rendered hundreds of Koluama residents homeless as their homes were washed away by the Atlantic Ocean.
The monarch explained that the coastal community located along the Atlantic coastline in the state, had lost substantial territory to marine erosion and tidal surge, forcing residents to retreat.
According to him, the Federal Fishing Terminal constructed by the Federal Government has been washed away by the violent Atlantic tide which is still threatening to submerge the remaining settlements. “Koluama is faced with erosion and the erosion is so serious that within the next five years, from what we see there, the name Koluama will no more (be) in the history of Bayelsa State.
“The people of Koluama want the government to protect the shore, so that we don’t want to be removed from that environment, government should protect the shore.
“The whole land is eroded, and we see that it is the company in that environment that has caused this problem for us, because of constant exploration activities.
“And so, we will like the government to come to our aid by securing the shore for us.”
He said that the environment of the oil rich area had also suffered the adverse effect of oil and gas exploration and regretted that the people were facing serious threats of losing their ancestral home land.
The traditional ruler also appealed to the Federal Government to provide social amenities to the coastal settlements to enable them have a sense of belonging.
Reacting to the claims made by the monarch, the General Manager of Policy, Government and Public Affairs at Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), Deji Haastrup, said that the operations of the company were environmentally safe.
According to him, there is no scientific basis to link CNL’s activities offshore Bayelsa State to an ocean surge which is normally caused by a rise in sea level. “At CNL, we conduct our business in accordance with international best practices and in accordance with the highest ethical and environmental standards which helps to maintain the integrity of the environment wherever we operate.
“This includes offshore Bayelsa State. We have integrated environmental protection into every aspect of CNL’s activities and operations as prescribed by the company’s Policy of Protecting People and the Environment.”