House of Reps C'ttee on Environment Storms Ogoni land *Laments Slow Pace of Cleanup
House of Reps C'ttee on Environment Storms Ogoni land
*Laments Slow Pace of Cleanup
By Madu Barth,Port Harcourt
The House of Representatives' Committee on Environment of the National Assembly has visited oil impacted sites in Ogoni land, Rivers State to ascertain the level of work done by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project(HYPREP),the body saddled with the responsibility of implementing the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)report of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Addressing journalists shortly after inspecting the extent of job done by HYPREP at polluted sites in Gokana,Khana, Eleme and Tai Local Government Areas in Rivers State, the Committee Chairman and Head of delegation, Hon Johnson Oghuma said since the Federal Government has provided the money for the cleanup, HYPREP has no excuse not to execute the project.
He expressed worry that water, which supposed to be one of the first things to be provided for the people has not been done.
Hon Oghuma also lamented the inability of HYPREP to pay compensation to the community people as provided for in the UNEP report.
"There are a lot of stories surrounding the Ogoni cleanup,some people say there is nothing going on anywhere in the area,others say the UNEP report exist only on paper.So as lawmakers and representatives of the people,we decided to come and see things for ourselves.Therefore,this a fact finding visit,aimed at ascertaining the level of work done by HYPREP. We shall therefore report back to the House on our findings," Oghuma told journalists.
The Federal Lawmaker however admitted that work is going on at the sites they visited.
"As to whether something is happening,yes something is happening, even if you want to build a skyscraper,you must start from the ground and that is what HYPREP is doing,so to that extent something is happening. But we are asking HYPREP to fasten the pace," Oghuma said.
Fielding questions from journalists during the inspection,the Project Coordinator of HYPREP,Dr Marvin Dekil said the cleanup exercise of over 27 oil-impacted sites across the four local government areas of Ogoni land is in progress.
According to him, HYPREP has trained enough manpower locally and internationally for the cleanup and these are Ogoni people. He pointed out that all the provisions in the UNEP report will be met.
On why potable water has not been provided for the people as provided for in the UNEP report,Dekil said arrangements have been concluded to mobilize contractors to site for that purpose.
He assured that in a month's time they must have arrived site.
"Contractors for water provision will be mobilized to site in the next one month. Don't forget you are talking of 27 impacted sites across the four local government areas that make Ogoni land.
The major challenges facing HYPREP are community issues and we are tackling them," Dekil explained.
Earlier,the traditional ruler of Tai Kingdom,HRM Godwin Gininwa commended HYPREP Project Coordinator,Dr Marvin Dekil for a job well done. According to him,since the commencement of the cleanup, many Ogoni sons and daughters have been given employment and when the youths are engaged there is less trouble.
The Royal Father said he is therefore happy to see the UNEP report implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government,whom he described as his friend.
"President Buhari is my friend,I had even visited him in his office and at home. He promised to implement the UNEP report on Ogoni land and they have started,so I am happy. So as members of the National Assembly,even if you visit Ogoni land ten times a day,I will receive you.
And for the Project Coordinator of HYPREP,Dr Dekil,he is trying,he is a young man,it is not easy. My appeal is that whatever support you can give as lawmakers,please give," King Gininwa said.
The 3-day visit took the lawmakers to lot 15 Wijeborsi Yorla Well 013,Kpean Community, Khana Local Government Area and Lot 18 Louizoni in Tai L.GA.
Other remediation site visited was Lot 20 Buemene Korokoro Well also in Tai L.G.A, Rivers State.