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Gabon Govt Silent As Estimboue People Cry Over Pollution By Oil Companies

After more than two years of crying to government without a response, the population of Etikboue, a locality in the west of Gabon has decided to take their case to the press concerning the pollution of their environment by the Franco-Britanic oil company Perenco.

For more than two years, crude oil emanating from Perenco installations has been polluting the environment in the Etimboue locality resulting in diminishing fishing catches, making life very difficult for the local inhabitants whose livelihoods depend very much on fishing.

The Gabonese civil society and the populations, whose main source of income has been fishing, have raised complaints to the government to do something to stop the pollution which is seriously damaging aquatic life in the Nkomi lagoon but to no avail.

“What is happening today in Etimboue does not surprise me because most of the multinationals in our various countries, think that African nations are inhabited by sub humans and once they obtain all signatures necessary to operate in an area, they are authorized to do whatever they like,”said Marc Ona Essangui, Executive Secretary of Brainforest, an environmental non-governmental organization, adding that he is less and less surprised by the attitude of government towards their cries.

According to the environmental protection activist, “The only reason that can explain the silence of the government is the collusion which exists between our governments and these multinationals in the petroleum sector”.

The consequences of the crude oil pollution of the waters are numerous including health problems, water pollution, poisoning of fishes and fishing products. 

All these realities have not stopped the government from renewing its agreements with Perenco, which was done about two months ago.

“It would appear the regime of President Omar Bongo Ondimba has chosen to abandon its international engagements towards environmental protection in exchange for money through a supposed project for ‘the development of the hydrocarbons sector in Gabon,” says the environmental activist.

“The government has no doubt turned its back on its engagements because the General Directorate of Environment and that of hydrocarbons have the means to follow up the actions of multinationals in terms of respect of the norms, but they have been doing nothing.”

“We are taking upon our responsibilities as we have always done with the example of Comilog in Moanda to save our lives and our territories. We are aligning with the populations to say it is enough,” Marc Ona declared adding that the “silence of the government should not be an escape route for these multinationals”.

It should be recalled that Perenco has over the years been blamed for violations of human rights and serious damage to the environment in all the countries where it operates. This has been the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia and today Gabon.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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