Barr Michael Karikpo, Programme Manager of ERA Port Harcourt Office.
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria(ERA), on Thursday, faulted the management of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) over its recent statement that contractors at the remediation sites in Ogoni would soon be handing over 70 percent completed sites in August this year.
ERA noted that HYPREP had not only misled the public on position of the remediation exercise in contaminated sites in Ogoni land but has also allegedly engaged unqualified contractors to clean up the environment.
Barr Michael Karikpo, Programme Manager of ERA Port Harcourt Office, dismissed the HYPREP achievement on the sites in an interview with The AUTHORITY at a meeting with some aggrieved Ogoni women who were protesting against their exclusion in the clean up exercise, held in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Mr Isa Wasa, Head, Community and Community Engagement of HYPREP, had in a statement titled “Ogoni Clean-Up: Achievements In Three Years” and dated June 23, 2020, stated that contractors have completed 70 percent work at the various remediation sites.
According to the statement: “The Federal Government has also ensured that the Ogoni clean-up is carried out in line with International best practice and every recommendation in the UNEP Report strictly followed by re-engaging UNEP team to provide technical support both in the field and in the PCO. President Mohammadu Buhari was careful to appoint a core professional, a qualified Environmental Scientist, Dr. Mahmood Mohammad Abubakar as the Honorable Minister of Environment to oversee the management of the project.
“HYPREP has commenced processes (e.g. homage etc) to enable contractors access remediation site and commence operations
“Of the 21 lots, contractors who are at various stages of the remediation processes, have continued to achieve tremendous success despite delays caused by inclement weather, terrain, and community issues.
“At present, about 70% of the contractors are expected to complete work by ending of August 2020. The other 30% are expected to finalize by end of November 2020.
“With about 70% of the contractors in the Phase I Batch I ready to handover remediateds sites by August and the remaining 30% by end of November, this is a huge progress and achievement”
On provision of portable water to affected communities, Mr Wasa said “With the progress achieved in the process towards the provision of a sustainable WHO standard drinking water, Ogoni clean-up has not failed”.
Meanwhile, Barr Karikpo stressed that the Ogoni environment is still in a state of diminishing if nothing is done quickly. He said the incompetent contractors engaged by HYPREP for the remediation exercise would only end up endangering the continue existence of the area that restoring the environment.
“We conducted two visits to the cleanup sites, 85 percent of the cleanup sites were not functional as at the time we visited there. Most of them have closed work since December 2019 and January 2020 and they have not come back to site. Most these sites have clear engineering problems that will not allow them to complete these projects if we want to deliver a world class projects.
“So the assertion by HYPREP that contractors have achieved 70 percent completion is wrong. HYPREP has responded to me when I asked the same question when they raised the same issue that 60 percent of the project have been completed. They responded that non of the projects have been completed and we are unable to clearly put across how many percentage the contractors have achieved which sites have been concluded, this project was supposed to have lasted for six months. They have been on now for one year and four months and we are struggling for completion. Am sure non of those projects are up to 60 percent completion.
“So I will challenge HYPREP to identify the sites that have achieved 60 percent completion and I will challenge them to invite media and civil societies to visit those sites and monitor those sites to see if they have achieved 60 percent completion. They should provide key performance indicator no which they base the measurement of performance by contractors.
“We have said the current management of HYPREP lacks the capacity to implement a complex project like the Ogoni cleanup and that is why you have the situation where about three years after HYPREP was structured and allowed to operate, we still have HYPREP telling us stories of processes and not actual deliverable on the ground. So until HYPREP show us deliverable on the ground processes means nothing to us”.
On provision of portable water for affected communities ERA said “Community people require clean drinkable water right now, they require it immediately, they require it urgently, so the idea of HYPREP saying they have started processes is not acceptable. When will HYPREP drop the first drinkable water in Ogoni communities that have been contaminated by pollution”