The federal government says it decided to commence clean-up of Ogoniland rather than follow the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) recommendations due to recent developments.
Marvin Dekil, the Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in the Federal Ministry of Environment, made the clarification on Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Saakpenwa, Tai Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers.
UNEP had in its Report advised the federal government to begin the exercise with the provision of potable water, healthcare and other emergency services before the clean-up.
Mr Dekil, however, said the decision to start with the clean-up, as well as adoption of newer strategies, was taken because implementation of the project started eight years after release of the report.
“We adopted a new strategy as we were eight years late (in the clean-up exercise). The UNEP Report was released in 2011; hence the adoption of a new strategy.
“In 2011, UNEP said: as an emergency measure, provide water, but this was not done. So, having lost eight years, everything now became an emergency; meaning we must do everything simultaneously.
Dekil said that under the new regime, all aspects of the recommendations were now being treated as emergency measures rather than implementing in any particular order.
He said the clean-up of oil impacted communities; provision of portable water; setting up of the Integrated Soil Contamination Management Centre, among others, were being addressed simultaneously.
“We have started (clean-up) with the less complex sites because the site’s remediation will not require the Integrated Soil Contamination Management Centre.
“Plans are underway for the setting up of the centre. Also, the process for the provision of World Health Organisation standard water has reached an advanced stage.
“HYPREP, in collaboration with the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources, had commenced assessment of existing water facilities in Ogoniland as well as mapping for the installation of new water facilities,” he said.
The project coordinator assured the people that the agency would carry out the clean-up exercise in line with the UNEP Report and international best practice.
Earlier, Godwin Gininwa, Chairman, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, urged HYPREP to speed up the pace of the remediation project.
Mr Gininwa, while reaffirming his support to the clean-up, urged HYPREP to adopt a process where indigent Ogonis would partake in the project.
“I fought to ensure the clean-up project comes into fruition. So, I will continue to be a father to HYPREP because I do not want it to fail,” he added.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Tai LGA, Jacobson Mbina, urged the agency to work with people of the area in the clean-up exercise.