17 November 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Civil Society Organisations in Rivers State on Friday attributed the slow pace of the clean-up of oil-impacted communities in Ogoniland to excessive bureaucracy within the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP.
The CSOs during a workshop organised by the Centre for Environmental, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD, in Port Harcourt, accused HYPREP Of doing next to nothing in the provision of potable water for the Ogoni people or sensitised them on its efforts.
Speaking, leader of Social Action, Dumnamene Fyneface, said HYPREP lacks proper policies for a proper conduct of the cleanup, adding that whatever cleanup process done today without putting the vital facilities recommended in United Nations Environmental Programme’s report would amount to an exercise in a vacuum.
Fineface expressed sadness that Ogoni land is still polluted even after the flag-off of the cleanup process in 2016 by the federal government, adding that they have not seen the presence of HYPREP in the various communities.
According to him, “When we saw the flag-off of the Ogoni clean up in 2016, we thought that HYPREP will go straight to carrying out the clean up in Ogoni land which has not happened until now.
“If the government is serious in embarking on the cleanup process of the Niger Delta, there should have been some necessary facilities it ought to have put in place as was recommended in the report by United Nations Environmental Programme.
“Like setting up a contaminated soil treatment centre, provision of clean and safe drinking water for Ogoni people and an audit of the health status of the people, but these measures have not been taken.
“If these vital measures are not put in place, whatever clean up amounts to a cleaning process in a vacuum, which will fall short of international standards.”
Also speaking, the Coordinator, National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spill in the Niger Delta, Reverend Father. Edward Obi said that the federal government’s reluctance and the bureaucratic processes surrounding HYPREP’s decision making is also hampering its pace in working.
“HYPREP is a subsidiary of the federal ministry of environment and takes instructions directly from the ministry. The coordinator of HYPREP cannot make a decision without passing through the bureaucratic processes.
“HYPREP should be granted more powers to operate, an autonomy should be given to them in terms of making certain decisions without always going through those bureaucratic processes.
“The federal government has been foot-dragging in tackling this issue, if the government was sincere, a lot would have already been achieved by now.”