Residents of the communities in the Oguta Local Government Area of Imo state have cried out over the hazards being faced with the continous gas flaring in the area, which they said has sacked over a hundred households.
The residents, who spoke in Owerri, the Imo State capital on Wednesday, pleaded for government’s interventions to end the dangers facing them as regards gas flaring in their communities.
Noting that gas flaring started over four decades ago, the residents claimed that it has caused them severe health problems, as they said it breeds mosquitoes that inflict illnesses on their children and that the situation usually worsens anytime there is flood.
Some other residents complained that because of the gas flaring activities that they usually experience hot weather even when it was supposed to be a cold weather.
The affected communities included Umundanike, Umunkwu, Umuosuma , Umunaraukwu, Umunkwocha, Ngegwu, Umutogwuma among others.
The President General Oguta Community Development Union (OCDU), Sir Uche Faith Iwuorisha JP, while speaking with reporters in Owerri on Wednesday, said: “Gas flaring is burning of gas that accompanies oil production. During the extraction of oil gas is released into the atmosphere is a kind of byproduct that could not be used. That fire that is burning is causing serious hazards. Both health hazards and environmental hazards. Including economic waste.
“It has not been easy with the oil communities especially people who live close to the location, they are the mostly endangered. You know government has regulation that is guiding the operation of these oilcompanies and gas flaring is illegal.
“What government should do to ameliorate the sufferings of the people like i understand in some countries cannot be entirely eliminated but it can be reduced. Because modern technology made us to know that some infrastructure can be put together and this gas that is being burnt can be converted and used to cook, generate energy for electricity.”
Speaking further on the impact of gas flaring on the villagers, Iwuorisha said: “The people that were badly affected relocated out of their communities. Because the gas flaring generates heat even if in the cold weather you feel very hot. It breeds mosquitoes. The air they breath is no longer clean because of the toxics that are mixed in the air. Honestly speaking, over a hundred households have been displaced and forced out of their communities because of the gas flaring. Even, it worsens during flooding. The people find it difficult to manage the situation.”
Adding his voice, the Founder and Executive Director, Center For Rural Economic and Social Development (CRESOD), Christian Okororie, said: “We have 27 villages in Oguta community and all of the citizens are suffering from gas flairing . The hazardous emissions of gas since the exploration of oil and gas started since 1964 to date our air is polluted , water from the rain is filed with sooth , corrugated iron sheets are always corroded with black substances, the production of farm produce, fish, forest and wild life have been grossly affected by gas flaring.
“It is these and other health challenges that we face led to the campaign for #stopgasflaring which attracted the establishment of the Nigeria Gas Flaring Commercialisation Progect, NGFCP in 2018. Many companies have indicated interest in converting the gas flairing sites in Oguta community to commercial purposes not only to stop gas flairing but utilise it in establishing modular refineries, fertilizer blending plants and LPG plants .
“These are direct derivatives of commercialisation of the process. The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, a subsidiary of NNPC PLC have started issuing licences to companies who applied to implement the gas flaring sites Commercialisation process, we at CREESOD implore the state government to pursue the matter of getting license for the company that scaled the first and second bidding process for Oguta Community gas flaring sites in other to commence operations as soon as possible
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