Port Harcourt — The House of Representatives Committee on Environment has called for fast track of the ongoing environmental clean-up of Ogoniland, to pave the way for the clean-up of other polluted areas in the Niger Delta.
Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Johnson Ogbuma, made the call when he led members of his committee to inspect some remediation sites in Eleme and Gokana LGAs of Rivers State, as part of their oversight function.
Ogbuma said contrary to claims that the project was not ongoing, he and members of his committee now have the first hand information that the clean-up up is ongoing with a call on the managers of the Project to increase the pace.
He added that since funds are not a challenge, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, should speed up the process and also ensure the provisions of emergency measures recommended by UNEP.
“Ogoni clean-up is going on, but the pace is slow and it is not as a result of non availability of funds. Money has been provided so they should increase the pace.
“Some of the sites we visited, we noticed some community issues, which we also experienced. Some of the sites are doing well, while others are not doing well.
“We will be here for three days to go round all the sites where the clean-up is ongoing, and at the end of the day, we will report back to the House.”
On the issue of some communities being aggressive towards the project, as a result of vested interest, the lawmakers urged the Project Coordinator of HYPREP to manage his people, since he himself was a son of Ogoniland.
“There has been several complaints with the emergency measures that were to be taken before the take off of the project, such as provision of water and health audit, but those ones are yet to be provided that is why the people are aggressive and apprehensive that if the project is completed without the basic amenities, it will be disastrous
“Our responsibility here is fact finding, and our duty is to ensure that the environment is clean and conducive for all, most especially the areas that are polluted like the Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta region.”
For his part, HYPREP Coordinator, Dr Marvin Dekil, assured that efforts are at the final stage for the provision of water to impacted communities, while plans are underway for the health audit of Ogoniland as recommended by UNEP.
“We are on track for the provision of water, we are currently at the final stage which is the invitation of contractors to collect their RFP.
“Then for the health audit, you are aware of the initial visit of the UN team who were here to carry out a health assessment, following that will be the study that is recommended and we are going to be carrying out more training and the most important thing is we are going to use Ogoni indigenous doctors for the study, the international facilities a Swiss public health system, the university teaching hospital, and primary health care board.
“So we have a complete package that will take the database of the diseases that are in this area, which we did earlier through the health outreach. So we have the data and we’re progressing in that regard. For the centre of excellence, it will be built at the end of our experience with the project.”
Earlier, a member of the Governing Council of HYPREP, Prof Ben Naanen, lamented that bureaucracy in the procurement process, was the biggest challenge facing the project.