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Minister Storms Ogoni Clean-Up Sites

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The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, last Friday, visited some clean-up sites in Ogoniland in Rivers State, and apparently expressed mixed feelings over the project, with a firm promise to visit the sites from time to time to ensure that the remediation work is delivered in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The minister, who was led to the sites by the Project Coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, and his management team, among other personalities, said the clean-up project was actually making progress, as it has moved from the realm of mirage to reality and actuality, but appealed to the Ogoni people to be patient, even as they support the project to succeed.
Abubakar, who visited Lots 18 and 19 in KoroKoro Tai Community in Tai Local Government Area, Lot 2 in Ebubu Obolo Community, all in Eleme Local Government Area, said he was not going to condemn anybody or contractor yet, as he would continue with the inspection visits to the sites as well as monitor events as they unfold.
While the minister was visibly impressed with the ongoing clean-up exercise at Lots 2 and 8, he was visibly disappointed with the pace of work at Lots 18 and 19 in KoroKoro Tai Community.
This is particularly against the backdrop of the complaint made by the Gbenemene Tai and President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, King Godwin Giniwa, who alleged during a courtesy visit at his palace that his people were not being carried along in the clean-up exercise, particularly by the contractors executing the project, and stressed the need for the local people to be empowered by HYPREP.
The minister, in response, promised to look into the concerns expressed by the monarch.
While briefing the minister on the activities of HYPREP, Dr. Dekil said the process of providing potable water to inhabitants of some communities would soon be concluded, as the project was working in conjunction with the Rivers State Government in that regard, adding that it was also planning to construct a post-training facility for the people of the area.
The Project Coordinator further disclosed that sensitisation was ongoing in the four Ogoni-speaking local government areas for the training of 1,200 women in acqua culture, fish farming, poultry and other ventures, with 400 of them to be involved in the first phase of the programme, as a way of providing livelihoods for them.
The Tide’s investigation, however, revealed that the main contractors handling the clean-up project in KoroKoro Tai Community are either not on ground or have completely alienated themselves from the local people.
Some stakeholders accused them of greed, selfishness and outright wickedness.
The minister also visited a highly oil spill impacted site in B-Dere Community in Gokana Local Government Area, where he was confronted with the stark reality of the massive environmental degradation of Ogoniland. Plans are underway for 36 additional contractors to be mobilised to undertake the remediation of complex sites in the area.

 

Donatus Ebi

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Environment

Dead Fishes:Environment Groups Demand Palliatives For Bonny Residents

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Two environment groups in Nigeria, the Bonny Environment Consultant Committee (BECC) and the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, have decried the devastating impact of the massive dead fishes floating along the Bonny coastline in Rivers State which they say have destroyed economic lives of the inhabitants of the area, with a call for the provision of palliatives to them.
The groups which made their position known in separate interviews with The Tide in Port Harcourt said it was not enough to unravel the causes of the dead fishes on the coastline but that there was the need to provide palliatives to the people whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the ugly incident.
The Chairman of Bonny Environment Consultant Committee, Prof. Sodeinye Abere, who described the incident as disturbing, said on confirming the veracity of the massive dead fishes on the Bonny coastline, his committee directed the people to stop harvesting, buying and eating fishes for now, thereby temporarily putting on hold their means of livelihoods.
According to him, “the stench of the dead fishes alone is very, very disturbing. Ordinarily, the coastline dwellers enjoy the cosy breeze that comes in and refreshes their bodies. It is no more the case. More than that, with the Coronavirus issue restricting people’s movement, again, the ordinary Bonny man can go behind of his house at the creek and fetch fish to subsist with, but he cannot do that any more. The economic load now would be so much on the ordinary natives.”
To cushion the effects of this seeming disruption of the people’s socio-economic wellbeing, Prof. Abere said there was the need to provide palliatives to them. “Palliative measures are also solicited because our people waiting to die of Coronavirus should be alive first”, he said.
He pointed out that there was also the need not to only investigate the circumstances surrounding the dead fishes but also the physiochemical properties of the water where the fishes live, stressing that if not properly handled, the situation can become a pandemic in Nigeria.
On his part, the President of the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Chisa Dike said the body was disturbed by the development and urged the Federal Government to treat the issue the same way it is treating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dike, an Associate Professor of Energy and Environment Law at the Rivers State University, stressed the need for critical stakeholders to work together to address the issue.
“ You never can tell who has consumed this specie of fishes since one month now. And we want to be sure that government is sensitised about it, because there is the tendency to tell the people about the danger of consuming the fishes but another thing is what happens to their economic lives?”, he queried.

 

By: Donatus Ebi

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Environment

COVID-19: Man O’ War Distributes Hand Sanitisers To Eneka Residents

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The Rivers State Command of the “Man O’ War” Nigeria has distributed thousands of hand sanitisers to residents of Eneka and other communities in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
The State Commandant of the paramilitary organisation, Barrister Dignity N. Nwieke, told newsmen during a sensitisation programme on the coronavirus pandemic in Eneka that, the move was to complement the effort of the State Government at checking the spread of the disease to the state.
Barrister Nwieke said the sensitisation programme which started in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area will be taken round the 23 local government areas.
According to him, as a responsible organisation the Man O’ War will not wait for the Rivers State Government to shoulder the burden of checking the spread of the disease alone, stressing that the organisation must play its part in ensuring that Rivers State is coronavirus free.
The State Commandant also called on other organisations and agencies to assist the state governor towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Governor Wike is trying. He needs the support of everybody to succeed,” he said.
Nwieke also called on the people of Eneka and other communities to maintain the highest level of personal hygiene, by washing their hands regularly with soap and running water, avoiding handshakes and keeping their environment clean.
He also called for support to the paramilitary organisation.
Some beneficiaries of the hand sanitisers commended the organisation for the gesture.

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Environment

RSG Probes Causes Of Dead Fishes As Andoni Communities Raise Alarm Over Likelihood Of Epidemic

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The Rivers State Government says it will investigate the incident of thousands of dead fishes along the Bonny and Andoni coastal waterways.
The State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Igbikis Tamuno, said this in a press release while reacting to reports of floating dead fishes along the Bonny and Andoni waterways.
The release signed by the Commissioner, Dr Igbikis Tamuno said the government will investigate the cause of the dead fishes.
The Commissioner also urged indigenes of coastal communities both in Bonny and Andoni not to eat the dead fishes.
Meanwhile, residents of some coastal communities in Andoni Local Government Area have alleged the presence of thousands of dead fishes along the Andoni River.
According to the residents, thousands of dead fishes are being washed ashore by Atlantic waves.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide, a resident of Muma community, Engr Joshua Ngo said the area may experience an epidemic if the decaying fishes are not properly buried.
Engr Ngo, also said, multinational companies operating in the area are denying being responsible for the incident.
According to him, the incident has deprived fishermen of their sources of livelihood as the entire coast stretching from Muma to Finima in Bonny Local Government Area has been polluted.
The community leader also called for the entire coastal environment of Andoni stretching from Oyorokoto to Ibot-Okpon Obolo to be fumigated in order to save the communities from epidemic.
Ngo also called for the communities to be compensated with relief materials.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Community Development Committee (CDC), Ngo mainland, Mr Clement Clement Sunday, called on the government to act urgently as hunger may force the people to feed on the dead fishes.
Sunday also told The Tide that all oil companies operating in the Andoni territorial waters have denied responsibility for the dead fishes.
“We have contacted companies operating in the area and they said they don’t know what caused the death of the fishes.
According to him, more than 20 communities in the coastal environment are on the verge of starvation as the decaying fishes have polluted the entire source of water source.
“I want to call on the government to come to the aide of the communities as the decaying fishes are all over the water surface.
“Hunger is looming,” he said.
Meanwhile, an Environmentalist, Mr Iniruo Wills, has urged the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), to probe the cause of death of fishes along the Niger Delta coastline.
Wills, in an interview with newsmen in Yenagoa, noted that dead fishes littered the coastline across Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States.

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