Niger Delta, the oil spill clean-up has started. It will take 30 years

The Nigerian government launched the clean-up of one of the world’s most oil-polluted regions. It’s the unprecedented victory environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa had fought for.

After decades of legal battles, the government of Nigeria announced the launch of a huge clean-up plan in the Niger Delta, which was once destroyed by oil drilling activities. It’s an unprecedented operation that will take 25 to 30 years to be completed and will have an estimated cost of a billion dollars.

The victory comes 20 years after the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa

The African country’s decision represents a historic victory for local population, which has been fighting for the clean-up for many years. In 1993, oil giant Shell had to leave the region of Ogoniland following a grass-roots movement led by activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The environmental activist denounced the severe environment damages caused by oil extraction in the Niger Delta. He paid his battle with his life. Two years later, on 10 November 1995, he was killed right after what most of the international community called a mock trial.



The multinationals exploiting the Niger Delta’s oil have denied their responsibilities for years, accusing infrastructural sabotage (carried out by groups of rebels) to be the real cause of the ecosystem destruction. In early 2015, Shell was sentenced by a British court to pay 55 million pounds (84 million dollars) to refund the over 15,600 Ogoni fishermen of the Bodo community affected by oil spills between 2008 and 2009.  


Nevertheless, local community’s anger didn’t softened. Armed groups, self-proclaimed “the Niger Delta Avangers”, have repeatedly attacked some installations, causing huge damages.


The Niger Delta is not enough

A representative of Shell-Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, confirmed his intent to take part in the Ogoniland clean-up. However, according to Ledum Mitee, former leader of Saro-Wiwa’s Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the clean-up plan won’t be enough. He said that a greater awareness is needed to solve the problems of the region’s marginalisation, underdevelopment, and economic exploitation.


Featured image: Amnesty International

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