Residents of Polobubo (Teskelewu) Community in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta state have called on the three tiers of government to prevail on oil companies operating in the community to dredge inland waterways.
They made the call on Sunday at a peaceful protest in Polobubo, saying that this would save them from the perennial flooding ravaging the oil community.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the protesters, Secretary-General of Polobubo National Council, Mr. Midwest Kukuru, said that government at all levels should help prevail on the oil firms to open up the rivers, describing the development as “agonising, harrowing and disturbing.”
According to him, the non-dredging of the river and the perennial flooding has resulted in the loss of lives and destruction of property in recent times in the community.
The protesters were armed with placards bearing various inscriptions such as: “No farming, no food because of flood,” “Government help us.”
Other inscriptions include: “Government come to our aid, flood has damaged our properties” and “We have lost our churches instruments to flood.”
Kukuru, however, blamed the oil companies operating in the community for being responsible for the flood disaster due to their oil activities.
“The river in the community used to be a very deep fresh water habitat, until few years after the advent of oil companies that we began to have these problems. The problem is as a result of the canal that is dug into the Atlantic Ocean by the oil companies.
“The silts from the ocean came through the canal and were deposited in this river. During dry season, this river is less than one meter deep, because it is silted. When the rain falls, the water has nowhere to go than to overflow its banks.
“From there, it goes into our houses and begins to cause problems. This, in a nutshell, is the cause of the flood. So, we are appealing to the government at all levels to prevail on the oil firms to open up our rivers for us.
“They should block that canal they dug to the Atlantic Ocean, and get it to the normal depth it was before. Then, there are areas they need to fill with sand for this community to relocate to, because we have study reports that says the whole community is sitting below sea level,” he said.
Kukuru said the perennial flood has been a yearly recurrence, adding that the flood of last year was less than what the community is experiencing now.
“It is expected that by next year, it is going to be far greater than what we are witnessing today,” he said.