The tranquil community of Kogbara Dere (K-Dere for short), located in the heart of Gokana Local Government Area, was rocked by an oil spill on Friday, October 20, 2023, following a rupture in an underground oil pipe connected to the facilities of Shell Petroleum Development Company.
The incident, which has disrupted daily life in the community, has raised environmental and health concerns among its residents.
Though initially deemed to have mild pressure, the spill, is said to be having significant impact on the community, with nearby businesses closing down, and even a local secondary school forced to suspend classes temporarily.
The devastating effects of the spill are succinctly described by an elderly woman through an interpreter, Mr. Lepene Monday-Kobaa, who stated, “Gas has overtaken the whole of K-Dere Community.
I thought there was harmattan. I didn’t know it wasn’t harmattan. I couldn’t open my eyes. I am having serious pain in my eyes.”
The oil spill incident is far from isolated, as it adds to a long history of oil-related issues in Ogoni land, where oil exploration began over 50 years ago.
K-Dere, in particular, is known to host more than 50 oil wells and flow stations, some of which have fallen into disrepair over time.
According to reports, Shell Oil Company has dispatched a team to the site for investigation and has made efforts to contain the ongoing spill. But despite these efforts, residents remain deeply concerned about the immediate and long-term consequences of the environmental disaster.
One resident, John Geage, voiced the growing anxiety among the community, saying, “As I speak, some people are in the hospital. Some are injured and cannot even open their eyes.
For now, we are trying to use this medium to ensure that information gets across to the federal government.
If Shell refuses to understand or tries to disobey the rules of engagement, the Ogoni people (we don’t have guns) will say no to injustice. That is our option, and that is where we stand.”
As community members gathered at the site, a chorus of the Ogoni Anthem filled the air, even as a sizable number of individuals waved palm fronts in a show of solidarity and frustration.
The affected community is demanding immediate and comprehensive action from Shell and other stakeholders to safeguard both the residents and the fragile ecosystem from the volume of crude oil that has already leaked into the environment.
Their hope is that this disaster does not join the numerous unresolved cases awaiting proper remediation.
Repeated attempts made by this medium to reach Shell’s Human Resources Manager for comment have been unsuccessful, leaving the community and environmental activists anxious for a swift response to the unfolding crisis.