GPS Coordinates:  Blocked bridge - Elev:9m, N 05°11.657’’, E006°29.574’’ and  Well 2 site - Elev:4m, N 05°11.655’’, E 006°29.574’’

Shell has not been fair to the community in terms of amenities says the leaders of the JK4 community, even though so much wealth is pumped out from our community soil daily. We have been drinking from the Taylor Creek that has often been polluted by crude oil spills from the company's failed oil facilities. ERA/FoEN heard of a protest by women in the community and promptly visited the community.

 

JK4, otherwise known as Edagberi/Betterland community is a community in Ahaoda West local government area of Rivers State, Nigeria. It is located along the Taylor Creek, sharing boundaries with Biseni and Ikarama communities in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State. Over forty oil wells operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC], several crude oil pipelines and Shell’s Adibawa Flow Station are located within the community. Community leaders have complained in the past that Shell has not been fair to the community in terms of amenities, even though so much wealth is pumped out from the community soil daily. Without pipe borne water the people have been drinking from the Taylor Creek that has often been polluted by crude oil spills. ERA/FoEN heard of a protest by women in the community (10 October 2011) and promptly visited the community.

TESTIMONIES

We have tried to meet with Shell several times on our plight and the company keeps dribbling or avoiding us.  This is why we decided to embark on this protest, starting from this morning [10th October, 2011]. And, we shall continue with the protest until Shell meets our demands. We are not going to allow them access to the bridge here to cross over to their facilities. If they want to fly with helicopter over the community to access the oil wells and flow station, well we have no control over that. We have over forty functional oil wells in our land plus the Adibawa flow station. But you can’t believe it that Shell has no regard for us as a community from where they are taking so much every day. We cannot stomach it anymore. We drink muddy, crude oil polluted water from the Taylor creek; no pipe borne water here. It is the same with electricity; we live without electricity here in the community. Besides all these, frequent oil spills have rendered our environment infertile. As you can see from here, the dark smoke rising from the gas flare furnace has also posed a great health related risk to us. Just see it rising (pointing to a thick column of smoke rising from a distance).  Some of the things we need include: water, electricity, secondary school, skills acquisition for our people, scholarship and employment of our sons and daughters. Shell’s trucks have damaged our road, so the company should repair the road. Unless Shell comes and dialogues with us to agree on these demands we will not give them access to this bridge to their facilities. We have occupied the bridge to drive home our demands to Shell.    -Madam Aza Ezekiel (Women leader)

Just look at the type of water we drink here. It has the colour of palm wine. This water is from the Taylor Creek and we don’t have any other source of drinking water. We have endured this for too long and we are not having any assurance that things will improve at all. We are not going to allow our children inherit this harsh situation from us. We want better living conditions. And if Shell will not assist us after polluting our environment, then we shall also not let them operate here. And that is what we are doing peacefully now. For now no Shell Official has come to speak with us, though the Police has been here this morning and when they saw that we were peaceful they left. - Ubile Godhelp

Apart from the immediate water and electricity needs, we want secondary school to be sited here in our community. Our younger brothers/sisters have been trekking far distances under the rain and sun to schools in other communities. Even though some of us have gone through that and have completed our secondary education, we don’t want this burden to continue.  Shell continues to deny our community youths scholarships. This is so even when we are one of the highest producers of crude oil. Even the Niger Delta Development Commission has not deemed it fit to consider this community for any project. This is injustice and we can’t take it anymore. Every year we only hear that Shell gives out scholarship to Nigerians. But our community has never benefited from Shell’s scholarship; not even one. We need scholarships and employment too. - Miss Mercy Miller

Just as our leader and others have spoken, we want Shell to respond to our demands. We have been suffering so much. Just imagine that at this age we still drink from the river where we also wash our clothes and take our bath. Considering what Shell is taking daily from our land I think we deserve a better deal. We ought not to be living like this. As far as the demands are concerned we are in one accord. Unless Shell responds to our demands positively we shall continue this protest.-Gekume Samuel

OBSERVATIONS/CONCLUSION:

Arriving JK4 at about 1:00PM, ERA’s field monitors found the women in the hot sun around the steel bridge that crosses the Taylor creek. Most of them were carrying palm fronds and other leaves as a mark of protest. Others were drumming, singing and dancing with placards. Some of the placards had inscriptions such as: polluted river; no constant electricity; 40 years of (Shell) operation nothing to show; we want water; we want scholarship.

Community leaders and youths (males) watched the women from a distance. People going to neighbouring Biseni community were allowed to cross the bridge. ERA did not see any Shell vehicle around apart from a truckload of soldiers [men of the JTF] who were allowed to cross the bridge after an initial delay. They women were still occupying the bridgehead when ERA’s field monitors left the community later on in the day. It is sad to note that the demands of the protesting women have once more showed the gap between community needs and what government should ordinarily do for the communities.

ERA RECOMMENDATIONS:

1 The community women remain peaceful in their protest as they await Shell’s and government’s response.

2 Shell should address these minimal demands urgently.

3 The State/Local governments and Federal government agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission and Ministry of the Niger Delta should equally meet the demands of the community as part of their responsibility.

4 Shell should stop polluting the Taylor Creek and immediately carry out a clean up of this vital water body.

 



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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

This group issues out communications using ERA's headquarter address and mail box. We have never had any ties with this group and any views, comments or opinions expressed by them is not endorsed or authorized by any member of management or staff of ERA.

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