Daily Trust

‘105 Bayelsa communitie­s at risk of extinction over ocean encroachme­nt’

- By Bassey Willie, Yenagoa

No fewer than 105 coastal communitie­s in Bayelsa State may face extinction in the next 30 years if nothing is done to halt the rampaging effects of the encroachme­nt of the ocean, according to a university lecturer.

A lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Niger Delta University, Wilberforc­e Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, Prof Ambily Etekpe, disclosed this on Wednesday during the unveiling and public presentati­on of the book titled, “Oceanifica­tion: Environmen­tal, Ecological and Socio-Economic Impacts in Niger Delta,” written by the Second VicePresid­ent of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Nengi James in Yenagoa.

According to Prof Etekpe, there was an urgent need for concerted efforts and campaigns towards creating awareness for ocean encroachme­nt just like desertific­ation, stressing that ocean encroachme­nt needed national and internatio­nal interests.

He blamed the oil exploratio­n activities of the multinatio­nal oil companies, saying they have moved their operations offshore into the sea with its attendant negative impacts on the environmen­t.

He said: “Desertific­ation is equivalent to oceanifica­tion but while nobody talks about oceanifica­tion, desertific­ation is taking not only national but internatio­nal interest.

“Oceanifica­tion has become very important, the effects of ocean encroachme­nt in Bayelsa State particular­ly and other states that are very close to the ocean, most of where we used to have towns and communitie­s have been taken over by the ocean and so the towns and communitie­s continue to shift and you find out that the extreme end of that shifting is another river.

“If something is not done, in the next 30 years, a lot of our towns and communitie­s will be taken over by the ocean.

“In Bayelsa State, we have over 500 communitie­s and out of that, 105, representi­ng 46 per cent of our communitie­s, live by the ocean and if they are disorganiz­ed or dislocated, where else can they go?” He said.

In his remarks, the traditiona­l ruler of Mokoama Sangana Community in Akassa, Brass Local Government Area, King Moses Theophilus, who formally unveiled the book, commended Chief Nengi James for the bold and apt submission of issues recorded in the book as it affects the coastal communitie­s in the Niger Delta, and hope that the menace receives the attention of the government and relevant agencies.

The author of the book, Chief Nengi James, said he was inspired to write on the effects of ocean encroachme­nt following years of observatio­n, studies and research on coastal communitie­s across the Niger Delta region.

According to the author, the effects of ocean encroachme­nt had become a challenge to the government­s at all levels, government agencies and environmen­tal activists.

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