The federal government yesterday said it is committed in cleaning up the hydrocarbon impact on communities in Ogoniland in spite of challenges being faced in the exercise.
The Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, Dr. Marvin Dekil, disclosed this on the sidelines of the 2020 Ogoni Day celebration in Bori, Rivers.
HYPREP, under the Federal Ministry of Environment has the mandate to clean up decades-long oil spills in four Ogoni local government areas in Rivers such as Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai.
Dekil said that in spite of government’s commitment to the project, the remediation exercise was hampered by land disputes, leadership tussles and communal clashes.
“The tussle over land and chieftaincy stool has been a major cause of delay in the implementation of the UN Environment Report at the many clean-up sites.
“This has to change for us to make progress by way of unfettered access to all contaminated sites.
“We equally appeal that HYPREP be spared land and chieftaincy disputes as we do not have an interest in any land and chieftaincy stool,” he said.
According to him, the federal government is also worried with the re-pollution of the affected Ogoni communities, blamed on activities of oil thieves in the area.
“So, another area that we expect stakeholders to assist us deliver on our mandate is the issue of re-pollution.
“Our efforts to clean Ogoniland will amount to nothing if after investing so much resources and time, it is again re-polluted by activities of illegal bunkers and refiners.
“We urge the leadership of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People and communities to dissuade youths from these very poisonous activities that affects our health, environment and economy,” he appealed.
The project coordinator said in spite of the challenges, the remediation agency recorded several successes in 2019.
He listed the achievements to include the mobilisation of contractors to the 21 remediation sites in the areas, employment of 24 indigent-Ogoni graduates, creation of job opportunities and skills acquisitions.
Others include the agreement on rehabilitation of moribund Rivers State Water facilities in Ogoniland and use of the state’s facilities to conduct Health Impact study in the areas.
“At most of the sites, contractors are excavating and treating contaminated soils, while some have even completed the process of excavation and are back filling treated soils.
“We assure that 2020 will see an increase in our activities as everything that is recommended in the UNEP is now an emergency for us,” he said.