The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), has handed over five additional oil spill impacted sites to contractors for the clean-up of Ogoniland, thus, bringing to 21 the total sites so far handed over to contractors in the first phase of the implementation of the clean-up of environmental impacted sites across four Ogoni local government areas in Rivers State.
The handover ceremony was held in Alode Eleme Community and Korokoro Tai Community on Wednesday, with three of the sites located in the Eleme community. Only four of the five approved sites by the Federal Executive Council were, however, handed over to the contractors and they included Lots 4,7, 8 and 16, while the fifth is expected to be handed over on a later date.
The companies which won the contracts for the handover sites include R.D.K. Environmental Ecological Solutions Limited, Avondale Services and Supplies Limited, Giolee Global Resources Limited and New Line West African Limited.
Speaking at the event, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr Marvin Dekil, urged the contractors to adhere strictly to laid down regulations in accordance with international best practices.
Dekil, who represented the Minister of Environment, Surveyor Suleiman Hassan Zarma noted that the contractors went through rigorous screening before their selection, having met all the requirements including the needed experience, and enjoined them to bring to bear their experience on the project by delivering to the Ogoni people a fertile and clean land.
He noted that all necessary structures have been put in place to ensure the successful implementation of the clean-up project, to deliver remediated sites to the people and restore their livelihoods, and urged Ogoni people to embrace the project.
“This project brings great economic opportunities to the people of Ogoniland. I therefore, urge you to take full advantage of these opportunities and continue to remain peaceful and resolute in your support to the project,” he pleaded.
Meanwhile, Mr Lesi Maiz of Giolee Global Services Limited, who spoke on behalf of the three contractors handling the three new sites in Alode Eleme Community, promised to adhere and keep all the terms of the contract agreement.
This is even as the contractor handling the Lot 16 site in Korokoro Tai Community, the Managing Director of New Line West African Limited, Mr Chijioke Ozoemena assured that the company would not fail in delivering the project as well as carrying along the people of the community in the execution of the project.
On his part, the President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and Gbene-Mene of Tai Kingdom, King Godwin Giniwa, while assuring the contractors of the support and cooperation of the people of the area, stressed the need for the Ogonis to be given a fair deal in the implementation of the UNEP Report.
His Alode Eleme community counterpart, Emere Don Awalah assured the contractors of the community’s support and cooperation but urged them to ensure that youths of the area are engaged and given their entitlements including paying them for their services.
In his remarks, a member of HYPREP’s Governing Council, Dr. Peter Medee decried the attempts by some individuals in Ogoniland, he described as commercial activists to blackmail and sabotage the clean-up project, insisting that such attempts would fail, as HYPREP was determined to deliver on its mandate.
Medee assured that funds would not constitute any problem in the execution of the clean-up project, and urged Ogonis to continue to support the project. Contrary to insinuations, he said, the clean-up project was real.
The Director of Remediation, Mrs Annu Basil represented the Federal Ministry of Environment at the occasion.