From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) has rated the activities of Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, HYPREP, in Ogoniland extremely slow.
This was observed at a press briefing organised by CEHRD in Port Harcourt at the weekend, on the findings of an integrated baseline research carried out by the organisation on the Ogoni clean-up.
Speaking, Dr Sam Kabari, Head, Environment and Conservation, CEHRD, stated that the slowness of the project was as a result of an issue inherent by HYPREP as an agency.
He regretted that the Federal government could award extra 36 lots for remediation when there has not been visible result from the earlier 21 sites undergoing same remediation process in Ogoni.
He said: “It is no longer news that the activities of HYPREP in Ogoni land is extremely slow and we have met HYPREP to identify some of the issues why their work on Ogoniland is very slow and we have taken up some of those issues with Federal Ministry of Environment as well.
“But of recent, we have discovered that HYPREP slowness is not just as a result of the federal Ministry of Environment but is an issue inherent in HYPREP as an organisation.
“So, we will not say HYPREP has done well because we expected there should be lessons learnt from the 1st Phase of the 21 lots that should be taken up on the 2nd phase which we got to be taken up before 36 lots. But we have not really learnt lesson because what was given to contractors was 6months to do cleanup but there are contractors that have been in sites for over a year and they have not left site. So if you have such kind of situation, why go ahead to give out another set of 36 new lots when you have the ones that have been in site for over a year and they have not been able to achieve the purpose for which they were there.
“We understand there are inherent challenges, if there are those challenges and HYPREP understands those challenges, we were not expecting the immediate handover of another 36 lots. We expected that those challenges should have been identified, addressed, dealt with sufficiently before we hand over another 36 lots.
“So, I will not score HYPREP 50% on the clean-up at the moment.”
Speaking on the outcome of the baseline research carried out by CEHRD on the Ogoni clean-up processes, Dr Kabari said “The research has disclosed that local communities, especially rural women find it difficult to obtain sufficient information with respect to the Ogoni clean-up. They are also not adequately consulted on oil related activities including clean-up.”
The Environmentalist explained that the report of the study, a product of a painstaking research undertaken by organization, documents the current state of environmental, health, human rights and gender impacts of oil pollution in Ogoniland. He added that it is a novel environmental impact assessment (EIA) in Nigeria, being the first to incorporate gender and human rights impact assessment.
He said the objectives of the study included providing baseline data on the environmental, health, human rights and gender situation in Ogoniland before the clean-up, as well as providing indicators/tools with which to monitor the clean-up, remediation and restoration of the environment. It provides the tools to measure the success or otherwise of the clean-up.
According to Dr Kabari, “The research found out that oil operations have done a huge damage to the environmental, health and human rights of members of the Ogoni communities.”
The research also disclosed that Communities have cultures suspended as a result of oil contaminations, which he said is an infringement on their cultural rights.