Abuja – The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), says that inadequate funding and infrastructure are major constraints to the inspection of oil installations in Nigeria.
The Director-General of NOSDRA, Mr Peter Idabor told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, that the Act establishing the agency also needed immediate amendment to enable it punish oil spill perpetrators.
Idabor was reacting to allegations by the Amnesty International tagged `Shell false claims about oil spill response in the Niger Delta’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Amnesty International had in a news conference accused the agency of issuing clearance certificate to Shell for cleaning some polluted oil sites which according to it, were still polluted.
The director general stressed that the agency issued the certificate to the company for cleaning the `Right Of Way’ (ROW) which was their responsibility.
According to him, it is not the duty of Shell to clean Ogoniland but the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), which was set up by the Federal Government.
Idabor disclosed that the Federal Government had released more than N10 billion for the clean up of Ogonland.
“It is not true that NOSDRA has not been responding to oil spills in the Niger Delta.
“Yes, we may have our short comings in terms of materials and funding, but we do our job.
“I just want to say categorically that it is not shell that is cleaning Ogoni land. What shell is doing in Ogoni land is to look at their right of way, where their pipes are passing.
“As I speak with you, we do not have a boat, enough vehicles to cover the whole oil infrastructure in Nigeria, so sometimes we are constrained to use their facilities to go to difficult terrains in the Niger Delta.’’
According to him, Nigeria is in a joint venture with these oil companies and it is a 60-40 ratio.
“Nigeria is contributing about 60 per cent, so we believe that since it is a joint venture and we do not have the finances, we should use their boat, fly in their helicopters.
“In some cases where we ask them to pay fines, government officials come to query us.
“The Federal Government needs to address the fundamental issues. You cannot clean Ogoni for instance without stopping bunkering, illegal refineries, vandals. If not, the pollution will not stop.
“What the amnesty International should be talking about is how to stop all these perennial incidences of re-pollution of those areas by bunkerers, pipeline vandals.
“Few months ago, I slammed a bill of 3.6 billion on shell. How can I collude with them after asking them to pay 3.6 billion dollars on the Bongas spill of 2011?
“They said they will not pay and we are still in court. Just yesterday, I slammed N10 million naira fine on Mobil Nigeria,’’ Idabor said.
According to him, if any oil firm fails to report a spill within a day, they will pay a fine of N500, 000 and failure to clean up in one day is one million naira per day.
NAN recalls that the Amnesty International had called for the independent audit of how NOSDRA certified the sites.
It also urged the Federal Government to strengthen the agency to enable it perform optimally. (NAN)