484 views | Kenechukwu Ofomah | March 4, 2021
Awka – The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, approved the sum of N6.04 billion for the provision of potable water in the four local government areas of Ogoniland.
The local government areas include Gokana, Khana, Eleme and Tai, all in Rivers State.
The FEC meeting was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmoud, said the approval was with regard to the provision of potable water to the four local governments of Ogoniland of Rivers State.
“If you recall, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, otherwise known as HYPREP, was commissioned in 2016 to clean Ogoniland, impacted areas of Ogoniland, based on a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“The mandate of the project is not just cleaning up the areas contaminated by oil pollution, but also to provide drinking water and, three, to also provide alternative livelihood for the people of that area.
“This is a project that previous governments have tried to do, but President Buhari, in 2015 when he promised, this project started in 2016.
“Currently, there will be six water projects that will be provided in this four local governments of Ogoniland and this has just been approved and work will start immediately. They are in different prices and also different completion periods, I think ranging from six months all the way to nine months, depending on the atmosphere. It is rehabilitation and construction and some of these will link with the River State government’s water system,” he said
Speaking further on the Ogoniland clean-up, the minister said a total of 15 oil polluted sites had so far been cleaned up in Ogoniland.
He, however, maintained that the completion of the exercise was delayed following land ownership tussle involving some communities in the affected areas.
“We have some delays and this was evident when we came to assess the project. We went all the way to Geneva and met with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); that’s the agency that designed the project, conducted the studies and made the recommendations. When we came back, I went and explained to the President that according to their record, we were behind by just one year. We sought approval to make some changes, and he graciously approved. We have made those changes and, between then and now, 15 sites have been cleaned up and certified clean. There was a delay of one year, but then, we have progressed. Now I can say that, within the last one year, we have done up to 15. This is a project that you want to take time to do and do it well, talking about the livelihood of people contaminated with soil by hydrocarbons. These are cancer-causing chemicals, or we call them carcinogens. So, we want to make sure that when we’re trying to speed up, we are also careful to make sure it is clean and is clean to the standard of the World Health Organisation and the standard set also by UNEP,” Mahmoud said.