More than thirty months after the explosion of Chevron gas rig, K.S. Endeavour, near the North Apoi and Funiwa oil fields in Baylesa, massive environmental, economic, and public health troubles continue to mount for the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area residents occupying the region.
Troubling new information and images from Koluama II detail the dramatic impact of the January 16, 2012 explosion at present, despite visits (and numerous promises) from President Goodluck Jonathan, Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Chevron.
During his February 27, 2012 visit, President Jonathan promised support and relief materials would be sent to Koluama community residents in Bayelsa, his home state. He urged Chevron work in tandem with Nigeria Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) authorities to further manage the crisis and amplify relief efforts.
But that was 31 months ago.
Hope that relief from what has become a sick nightmare for affected residents has dwindled, if not dried up. The explosion, which burned for several weeks, left Koluama II eerily desolate. Rivers, and the accompanying fishing trade, have dried up, overwhelmed by toxic spillage into the water.
Illness has also taken hold in the region. Residents, who continued to use and drink the contaminated water, have fallen sick. A March 2012 Vanguard Nigeria report quoted a Koluama resident who detailed the medical peril affecting them.
“Many of us have [gotten] strange sickness since the gas fire, some have lost their lives and there is no medical team, no treatment of any sort anywhere by Chevron, we are grounded,” the resident said.
Chief Bofa-Akpele, echoing this, also told Vanguard, “As [of] now, the air we are breathing now is choking, it is different, we know what we are feeling, we have been asking Chevron to come with medical assistance but they have not come.”
The photographs that accompany this report were taken recently at Koluama II. Concerned residents, who reached out to SaharaReporters, confirmed that long after the embers of the gas rig were quenched, the damage done continues to singe local residents.