Yenagoa - Artisanal fishermen in the Niger Delta have urged president-elect Muhammadu Buhari to pay the recommended compensation to the victims of Bonga oil spill when he assumes office.
Reverned Samuel Ayadi, Coordinator of the Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN) Niger Delta chapter, made the call in an interview in Yenagoa on Sunday.
The spill which occurred in Bonga offshore oil field belonging to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), discharged 40,000 barrels of crude into the Atlantic.
The pollution which occurred on December 20, 2011 and covered 185 kilometre along the Nigerian coast, compelled fishermen in the area to desert the sea.
The House of Representatives and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had in December 2014, recommended payment of $3.96 billion compensation to the victims.
Ajayi said that the failure by the company to pay the recommended compensation had had crippling effect on the fishermen in the region and urged Buhari to come to their rescue.
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"We have not been able to get out of the problems of Bonga spill; more than 50,000 of our members were affected because we operate in the Atlantic Ocean.
"Our members lost their fishing nets and fishing gears.
"When the spill occurred the regulator directed us to suspend operations to avoid catching contaminated fishes.
"We complied and withdrew from fishing activities till cleaning-up was completed.
"Many of our members have been thrown out of business following that incident, which wiped out generations of fish from the waters.
"That is why Bonga fish which the facility is named after, is almost in extinction now," he said.
According to him, the fishing sub-sector is often neglected in government’s policies on agriculture which the incoming administration should revitalise.