In a move that could signal a new dawn for Nigerian coastal communities affected by oil spills, the Federal Government will implement the 1992 International Civil Liability Convention and the 1992 International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund to assist them.
Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said this plan will be beneficial to dwellers of coastal communities and the preservation of the marine environment – in line with best global practices.
He said this at the seventh meeting of the National Standing Committee (NSC) on Implementation of the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund and related conventions in Nigeria held in Abuja.
Represented by the Director Abuja Zonal office, Ali Indabawa, Peterside assured stakeholders that the Agency was committed to the adequate implementation of the IOPC Fund and related conventions; noting that marine business can only thrive when the coastal dwellers are given a sense of belonging from the authorities.
“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency is working hard to ensure that our marine environment is free from all sorts of pollution,” he said.
“This entails preventing and controlling pollution from all sources such as ship-based and land based sources.”
He noted that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed the plan which helps victims of oil pollution damage to obtain compensation and for governments to be reimbursed for cost of oil spill clean-up.
At least 85% of Nigeria’s oil infrastructure is located within the coastal belt.
The first major oil spill occurred in Ogoniland, Rivers state in 1970.
Since then, there have been over 7,000 oil spills across the coastal region – destroying several acres of farmlands as well as rivers.
This has often times put affected coastal communities at odds with oil majors and the state oil authorities.
But these spills have been caused by industrial accidents and most significantly oil pipeline vandalism by oil thieves and sea pirates.
This year alone, a total of 45,347 pipeline breaks have occurred in Nigeria’s downstream pipeline network between 2001 and the first half of 2019.
The NIMASA DG insisted therefore, that creating a compensation template would help get coastal communities to join hands in taming the activities of oil thieves in the region and also help in protecting the marine environment.