The House of Representatives Committee on Safety Standards and Regulations has expressed concerns over the Ogoni clean-up.
The concerns were raised on Thursday, during the interactive session with some federal regulators.
PREMIUM TIMES had investigated the project and discovered that Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), the agency coordinating the cleanup, had given the contract to 16 companies who have no prior experience in remediation projects.
During the session, Ben Kalu (APC, Abia), asked the Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, to give an assessment of the clean up thus far.
“With the work that is being done there, are you satisfied because I was there myself with my team—I am of the climate change committee— I was there and the communities were complaining about the remediation programme going on now. And I’m saying, as the regulator, are you satisfied?” Mr Kalu asked.
In his response, Mr Musa said “so far with those that have been closed out, the ones that have been completed, we are satisfied with that.
“Definitely the entire process is slow, let me use that word. Because from UNEP recommendation, it should have taken us five years to do the remediation and another 25 years for nature to handle the rest, to restore the environment.”
He added that “scientifically, the work done so far has been satisfactory.”
Mr Kalu, who was obviously not satisfied with the response from the DG, said three years after, residents of the affected communities are still unable to drink water or fish from the rivers.
“If we are spending money for the cleaning up exercise, and the people cannot drink from their water and cannot farm on their land, they cannot fish from their waters, what is the essence of the clean-up? And I asked you can people can now fish in their water, you are not able to answer that question.
“Do we say you are regulating well in that instance or there is still something that is not done because the villagers don’t want to hear about that your scientific analysis, they want to go back to their farms, they want to fish whether raining season or dry season. For an exercise that is going on for a number of years, we cannot confidently say that by now our people can go back to the farm. I’m from Niger Delta, if my people cannot go to the farm they cannot fish and drink their water and they are still falling sick, then there is something wrong, so the regulator, are you regulating well?”
Mr Musa responded that he appeared before the committee to talk about safety and regulations, noting that he would have appeared before the committee with the director in charge of the clean-up.
The representative of the Minister of Transportation, Mercy Ilori, was also questioned on the non-implementation of the National Road Safety Policy.
Ms Ilori responded that the policy is still at the draft stage at the Office of the Vice President.
The committee resolved that NOSDRA should present all relevant documents on oil spills and compensation to communities in the area.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), the agency coordinating the clean-up, had given the contract to 16 companies who had no prior experience in remediation projects.
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