When you hear the term “liquid gold", what comes to your mind? If your answer is crude oil, then you’re a genius!
Crude oil has maintained the name “liquid gold" for years and for years this non renewable resource has found its way from its real owners to foreign lands. It’s no news that the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is the richest producers of crude oil.in the country. But what’s supposed to be a source of wealth for these regions has been a constant source of impoverishment instead.
Cases of oil spillage has constantly contaminated water bodies and lands in these regions rendering them useless for anything productive (especially farming).
It is issues as this that Shell, a British-Dutch oil company, was sued by four farmers and the Friends of the Earth campaign group for damages. The case which dragged on for 13 years (since 2008) finally received a favourable ruling yesterday, Friday 29 – the Court of Appeal in the Hagues has ordered the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell to pay compensation to these farmers.
You may be wondering the extent of affected land that resulted in a court case. Well, according to the documents presented, an equivalent of 60 football pitches in two villages were affected. Now that’s a lot. And remember that Shell began drilling oil in Nigeria since the 1950s, so imagine the extent of land that is “actually" affected.
Although the ruling has been made, Shell still maintains its ground that it’s not responsible for the spillage rather saboteurs. According to the Nigerian law, the company will not be held accountable if the leakage is due to saboteurs.
However, the amount of compensation has not been made known by the court neither has Shell’s parent body based in the Netherlands been directly held responsible. But it has rather ruled that in addition to the compensation, Shell’s parent company and its subsidiary in Nigeria will have to fix a leak-detection system in the pipeline responsible for the leakage.
What this ruling has successfully triggered is more of such court cases as everyone affected will want to get a compensation.
But I ask, do you think compensations will bring a lasting solution to the damaged water bodies and farmlands in the Niger Delta? Let me hear your opinion.