Residents of Polobubo (Teskelewu) Community, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta on Sunday sent a ‘Save Our Souls’ message to the Federal Government, begging both the Federal and the State Governments to prevail on the oil companies operating in the community to dredge their inland waterways.
They made the call during a peaceful protest in Polobubo, saying only immediate dredging would save them from the perennial flooding, currently ravaging the community.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the protesters, Mr. Midwest Kukuru, Secretary-General of Polobubo National Council, said that government at all levels should help prevail on the oil firms to open up our rivers for us.
Kukuru described the development as “agonising, harrowing and disturbing”.
According to him, this development had caused loss of lives and property in recent times in our community.
The protesters were armed with placards of various inscriptions such as “No Farming, No Food, because of Flood, Government Help Us”.
Other inscriptions include: “Government Come to Our Aid”, “Flood has Damaged Our Properties”; “We have lost Our Churches, Instruments to Flood.”
Kukuru, however, blamed the oil companies operating in the community for being responsible for the flood disaster due to their oil activities.
“The river in the community used to be a very deep fresh water habitat, until few years after the advent of oil companies that we began to have these problems.
“The problem is as a result of the canal that is dug into the Atlantic Ocean by the oil companies.
“The silts from the Ocean came through the canal and were deposited in this river.
“During dry season, this river is less than one meter deep, because it is silted.
“When the rain falls, the water has nowhere to go than to overflow its banks.
“From there, it goes into our houses and begin to cause problems. This, in a nutshell, is the cause of the flood.
“So, we are appealing to the government at all levels to prevail on the oil firms to open up our rivers for us.
“They should block that canal they dug to the Atlantic Ocean, and get it to the normal depth it was before.
“Then, there are areas they need to fill with sand for this community to relocate to, because we have study reports that says the whole community is sitting below sea level,” he said.
Kukuru said the flood issue had been a yearly recurrence, adding that the flood of last year was less than what we were experiencing now.
“It is expected that by next year, it is going to be far greater than what we are witnessing today,” he said.
Commenting, Mrs Alice Gbalubi, a teacher in Miyen Primary School in the community, narrated the ordeals teachers and pupils were being subjected to due to the flood.
“You can see that the school is flooded with water. We have resumed, but our pupils are on the water surface to do their learning. Before the close of the school, many get cold.
“Most times, their (pupils) books fall into the water and get wet. We want the governments and the affected oil companies to come to our rescue,” Gbalubi said.
Also, Rev Kenneth Toruwei, a Pastor of First Baptist Church in the community, said that the church had lost most of its instruments to the ravaging flood.
Toruwei also said that a jetty in front of the church building had been submerged.