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Oil Polluted Ogoniland, Vulnerable to Covid-19 due to prolonged delay in Cleanup Exercise

...hand washing is now done with contaminated water ....recent Investigations in May 2020 shows a seven meter (7m) Dept pollution under the ground. ...women and children suffering from lockdown restrictions ...Goi community, Bayelsa not captured in cleanup project

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By Emmanuel Bagudu, Abuja

Washing hands with contaminated water is a serious set back in the quest to contain the novel Covid-19 Pandemic especially in the oil polluted ogoniland in Nigeria’s southern region.

These and many more issues were the submissions of some stakeholders during a Virtual Conference on Friday tagged “Situation Room for the Review of the Process of the Implementation of UNEP report ” which took place on Zoom Webinar.

TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) was part of the Webinar meeting which was a multi-stakeholders engagement meant to appraise the progress made by the Hydrocarbon Remediation Project (HYPREP) an agency , under the Federal Ministry of Environment responsible for cleaning the oil polluted ogoniland.

Recall that the HYPREP came into existence after the report by the United Nation’s Environmental Program in 2016 which served as the baseline for the clean up exercise.

Organised by the Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, the Virtual Conference featured discussions on “Role of Women in the cleanup exercise” as well as community response and general overview of the progress made in the cleanup. Very sensitive issues on the discussions was the use of contaminated water and leaving in contaminated environment which the stakeholders say may halt the ongoing fight against the novel Covid-19 since residents depend on contaminated water for regular hand washing. “….The additional issues faced by the Ogoni People are related to the extreme pollution they live with. Covid-19 requires that people wash their hands under running water. This cannot be done with contaminated water. Secondly, the symptoms of the Covid-19 include breathing disease, these are exactly the conditions that people exposed to hydrocarbon pollutions live with….” Nnimo Bassey one of the panelists said during the meeting. The review meeting also raised alarm over a new discovery of pollution located about seven metres under the ground in Eleme Rivers State.

For his part Suanu Baridan, head of Ogoni traditional Council, conflict remains imminent in the cleanup process and so locals must be carried along to avoid rancur.

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It was also notted in the meeting that money for the cleanup which is one billion dollars ($1B) is being gathered in the OGONI trust fund. The money which comes in tranches are be contributed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), which holds 55% of the shares, Total (TEPNG) which holds 10% and ENI oil company 5%. Shell (SPDC’s) contribution will be 30% of the figure. Refineries and other local oil business operatives are expected to also contribute to the fund.

It was also discovered in the meeting tha Goi, a highly oil polluted community in Bayelsa was not captured in the cleanup project.

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