The House of Representatives Committee on Environment has expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace of work on the cleaning of oil spill-impacted sites in Ogoniland.
Johnson Ogbuma, the committee’s Chairman, made the expression on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Alode, Eleme, during a three-day inspection tour of remediation sites in Eleme and Gokana Local Government Areas of Rivers.
President Muhammadu Buhari launched the clean-up project in 2016.
Reports show that, so far, a total of $360 million has been released for the implementation of the $1 billion project.
According to Ogbuma, the committee embarked on the tour to have a first-hand information on the progress work so far on the sites.
“In some of the sites we visited, we noticed some community issues; some of the sites we visited are doing well while others are not.
“Money has been provided, so the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) should increase the pace of work,” he said.
Ogbuma debunked claims that the project was abandoned by the Federal Government, saying: “HYPREP has recorded some level of progress irrespective of the slow pace of work.
“Ogoni clean-up is going on, but the pace of work is slow, and it is not as a result of non availability of funds.
“We will carry out this inspection on all the sites where the clean-up is ongoing for three-days; we shall thereafter report our findings to the house.”
Ogbuma pointed out that early completion of the remediation was important so that attention could be given to other polluted areas in the Niger Delta.
He said the aggression shown by residents towards the project was partly due to inability of concered authorities to provide basic amenities before take-off of the project.
“So, our duty is to ensure that the environment is clean and conducive, especially the areas that are polluted like Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta,” he added.
Dr Marvin Dekil, HYPREP Coordinator, said the remediation agency had taken proactive steps towards fast-tracking the exercise.
According to him, the agency has recently met with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) as part of plans to carry out extensive health audit in the area.
“We are on track and on the final stage for the provision of water. All that remains now is the invitation of contractors to collect their Request For Proposal.
“For health audit, we are going to conduct more training; we shall use Ogoni indigenous doctors for the study.
“So, we have a complete package that will take the database of the diseases that are in Ogoni land. We got this earlier through our health outreaches in the area,” he said.
By Desmond Ejibas