By Assan Bah
Residents of Kembujeh in the West Coast Region, who were last year affected by oil spill from a NAWEC facility, have confirmed to this medium that they have received compensation from the National Water and Electricity Company, (NAWEC) but are unsatisfied with the amount allocated to them.
Ousman Manneh, a victim of the menace confirmed that he received cash from NAWEC through the Governor’s office in Brikama, but expressed his disappointment that “the compensation is just a ‘name’ because it cannot even solve half of the damages caused by the oil spill.” Manneh said they received their compensation based on the damages caused by the spillage, while others were not compensated because the oil did not enter their compounds. He said they compensated those who lost their livestock, farm lands and wells respectively.
Mr Manneh said his neighbors were also affected by the overflow, adding they have now abandoned their well, because it still has oil which makes it unsafe for use.
Manneh said: “Because of the spillage, we have now stopped using the water from the well because the oil is still present in it making it unsafe for use.” According to Manneh, his cassava farm would have earned him more than the amount they gave him, talk less of his poultry and other valuable goods. He said the spillage destroyed some of his mattresses, which he had to abandon because of the heavy fuel spill on them.
Another victim interviewed was Sadou Jallow, who said he was one of those most affected by the overflow.
“I was the most affected person by the oil spill. We collected cash at the governor’s office in Brikama, but it was not enough to take care of the damages incurred as a result of the spillage,” Jallow said; that the amount he received could not in any way solve half of the damages he suffered from the oil spill. “That money cannot in any way solve the damages I incurred. Since it has happened, we just have to be ready to face the consequences,” Jallow emotionally lamented. He explained that he did not farm this year because of the oil spill because his farm was filled with sand.
“I cannot farm this year because my farm, where I used to harvest 9 to 10 big bags of groundnuts, is now full of sand because of the oil spill. This is the unfortunate part of this country. When there is destruction, it is the victim who loses because the people responsible will not even compensate you for half of the damage caused or sometimes you don’t even receive anything from them. We will therefore take heart and know that it was destined to happen,” he said.
Musa Senhgore, another victim, confirmed receiving a bag of rice and an amount of one thousand Dalasi from NAWEC through their committee. Senhgore however said he was not seriously affected by the oil spill because he lost two chickens and all his children caught cold (Flu) due to the heavy oil, as some of it entered his compound, and as a result he lost some of his children’s clothes.
Reacting to the victims’ complaints, Mr Buba Badjie, the Communication and Public Relations Supervisor of NAWEC, said the Utility Company paid a lump sum to the Committee, which was tasked with the assessment of the damages caused by the overflow. That the Committee comprised the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), the Department of Water Resources, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the Office of the Governor in Brikama, and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. He said in that committee, there was a team that was assigned to do the compensation.
“The team came up with an amount which was disbursed; however, NAWEC did not decide what one should get. It was all decided by the committee. Eight males and two females were compensated, because they were those entitled to compensation.”