National, News

Oil companies risk penalties over pollution

By Mamer Abraham


Vice President for Service Cluster, Hussein Abelbagi Ayii Akol, has warned oil companies against poor waste management that threatens the lives of civilians in the oil-producing areas.

In his closing remarks at the High-Level Meeting on Environmental Issues and the 5 percent oil share to the oil-producing areas, the vice president stated that the companies that were not complying with the law would attract penalties.

“I direct this meeting to remind the operating companies to abide by corporate responsibility. You may recall that I raised this particular matter in my opening speech as well, that the oil deposit should be well managed,” he said.

“However, if the companies are not adhering, the government should act appropriately to penalize the companies breaking the law,” he echoed.

VP Akol added that the existing legal frameworks should be reviewed so those risks in the petroleum-producing areas would be mitigated.

“Existing legal frameworks should be reviewed and addressed to address all the issues related to the affected areas,” he continued.

Deng Deng Akoon, the speaker of the Council of States, gave his utmost assurance that the Upper House would uphold the recommendations of the high-level meeting to ensure that environmental protection is ensured.

“The council recognizes the importance of environmental protection and equitable distribution of oil revenues and, as such, will prioritize the implementation of the recommendations put forth in this workshop,” he stated.

“We have recognized the importance of environmental protection, the need for inclusive growth in oil-producing areas, and the significance of transparent and accountable revenue management,” he said.

On Thursday, the chief administrator of Ruweng Administrative Area, Stephano Wieh Mialek, displayed a picture of the late child who was born with a defect in the area and died in Nairobi.

Mialek said the child was the seventh child to be born with a defect and had died since oil production started in Ruweng.

He maintained that the fact that children were born with defects in Unity State, Upper Nile State, and Ruweng Administrative Area, where oil is produced, but did not happen in the other states that were not producing oil, was clear proof that the defects were due to oil production.

Nhial Tiitmamer, an environmentalist who works with UNMISS, agreed with Mialek’s point that the defects were due to oil production in the areas; however, some other environmentalists maintained that other factors also contributed to birth defects, including hereditary factors as well as infections.

During the opening of the third high-level meeting on Tuesday, the minister for environment, Josephine Napwon, said there were top government officials who were protecting the oil companies from carrying out environmental audits.

She added that the ministry was encountering robust challenges with the environmental audit because the audit is being funded by the same companies that are polluting the environment.

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