The Artisanal Fishermen Association of Nigeria, ARFAN, has commended the House of Representatives for recommending a $3.96 billion compensation for the December 2011 oil spill from Bonga oil fields.
The House of Representatives committee on Environment on Wednesday endorsed a compensation of $3.96 bn (about N697 billion) recommended by National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA.
The House directed Shell to compensate the communities impacted by the oil spill from Bonga fields operated by Shell Nigeria Production and Exploration Company, SNEPCO.
The Director at NOSDRA, Idris Musa, was quoted as saying that some 40,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean and polluted the waters compelling fishermen to suspend fishing.
Reacting to the development, Samuel Ayadi, the coordinator of the fishing group in the Niger Delta said in Yenagoa on Friday that the recommendation was a welcome development.
He commended the oil spill agency for their painstaking efforts in conducting studies on the spill incident and making their report a basis for the House Committee to arrive at a conclusion.
He said the decision of the House had rekindled the hope of fishermen affected by the spill.
He recalled that some 6,000 members of the association were compelled to suspend fishing activities for more than three months to pave way for clean-up activities.
Mr. Ayadi urged the management of SNEPCO to comply with the directive, which would resolve the lingering compensation claims on the spill.
“We have cried to the government and National Assembly and we are happy that they responded by bringing Shell to the negotiating table and compelling them to resolve all pending compensation,” Mr. Ayadi said. “We applaud and thank the government for these.”
He said that the Bonga oil spill was responsible for the scarcity of fish as more than 40,000 barrels of crude discharged into the Atlantic polluted the waters and wiped off the fish stock.
“Due to that spill we can no longer get ‘Bonga’ fish which the platform derives its name from within our territorial waters; the remaining fish migrated deeper into the ocean where artisan fishermen cannot reach,” he said. “We look forward to the compensation so that we can come back to business now that the waters have been cleansed.”
The public affairs officials of Shell declined comments on the decision of the House when contacted.