South Sudan MPs call for government to stop forsaking people living in oilfields
Needed: jobs, compensation, infrastructure, services, medical treatment – and an end to the contamination by oil wastes of water and land
By Joseph Oduha
January 17, 2019
Buay Keke, a member of the South Sudan National Transitional Assembly, has issued searing accusations. Recipient of these: the country’s government.
In Keke’s opinion, the government has “forsaken” the hundreds of thousands of people who reside in South Sudan’s oil-rich Upper Nile region.
Keke’s key point: instead of partaking in and thus profiting from the vast amounts of revenues being generated in the region’s oil fields, the people are being condemned to poverty and exposed to the pollution emanating from oil wastes, leaks and chemicals issuing from facilities and pipelines.
“The pumping of oil in the Upper Nile region is yielding no tangible benefits for its communities. Oil-generated revenues could be going to build schools and roads in the region – and could be generating jobs and other opportunities, with these especially being for young,” Mr. Keke was quoted saying in an Eye Radio broadcast.
Keke went on to note that the exploration for oil and the exploitation of it have instead seriously damaged the environment, and have exposed people to health risks.
Keke’s call for revenue sharing is based on a stipulation found in the South Sudan Transitional Constitution. The latter states that at least two percent of the revenues issuing from the pumping of oil is to be channeled to the communities in which this is being carried out.
Of particular concern in the country: the effects of the pollution of water by oil wastes.
Last year, South Sudan government confirmed that more than 500,000 people living in country’s north had been forced by oil pollution’s effects to leave their homes.
Mr. James Lual, a South Sudanese MP and the head of the Petroleum and Mining Committee at the country’s National Legislative Assembly, recently issued a report on the magnitude of the oil pollution-caused crisis.
Lual reported that the contamination of water sources has caused several outbreaks of as yet unidentified diseases. These are affecting both human beings and animals.
These diseases have caused a number of women to give birth to deformed babies, with others suffering miscarriages.
In his report, Mr. Lual proposed the relocation of the victims of oil pollution (with this including their livestock) to sites along the Nile River. In his view, this is the best way to safeguard the health of humans and their animals. The alternative would be remediation of the contaminated land and water – an expensive and uncertain option.
Paul Yoanes is also a member of the Transitional Legislative Assembly. Yoanes heads the Assembly’s Information and Communication Committee.
Yoanes has joined the legions of legislators calling for an end to the oil pollution in South Sudan.
Yoanes has also come out in favor of a Bill of Water Rights for the people of South Sudan.
“I am of course all for guaranteeing the rights of the people of South Sudan to clean water – and to water that is safely and easily retrieved. This especially applies to those living in oil-producing area. Water is life,” Yoanes states.