The Project Coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, has assured communities affected by hydrocarbon pollution of full participation during the clean-up exercise.
A statement by the Assistant Director (Information), Ekaete Umo, said Dekil gave the assurance during the sensitization exercise in Alode and Obolo Ebubu communities of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Addressing members of the communities, the Project Coordinator who was represented by the Head of Communication and Community Engagements Mr. Isa Wasa expressed his appreciation for the support enjoyed from the communities from the beginning of the project.
He informed members of the communities that the Federal Government has concluded all processes to ensure the commencement of the clean-up in Ogoniland.
Speaking further, he explained the various aspects of interventions and the processes. He informed them that the Project Coordination Office has diligently followed the steps outlined in the UNEP Report by carrying out the emergency measures before the full remediation commences.
He also informed the communities that HYPREP has had consultations with the traditional rulers, youth groups, women groups, land owners and other critical stakeholders as well as engagements with Civil Society Organizations to ensure everyone was on the same page.
The Project Coordinator briefed members of the community of all the intervention programmes carried out by HYPREP as contained in the UNEP Report. He informed them that HYPREP has carried out medical outreach where a team of 65 medical personnel were engaged and patients with various health challenges were attended to including surgical operations.
He further informed them that a technical team from the Project Coordination Office had carried out water sampling from households in the impacted communities in preparation for the provision of potable water.
As part of building capacity and providing skills, Dr. Dekil said HYPREP has commenced the process of data gathering under the Livelihood Programme to train women and youths in various life skills so as to restore their livelihoods and make them to once again be economically active and contribute to the economic growth of the community.
Mr. Princewill Abey from the Operations Unit took the community through some of the effects that may likely occur when full remediation commences and told them not to panic.
He assured them that every process of the remediation will be carried out in line with the UNEP Report with the safety of the community members being a top priority. He appealed to members of the communities to keep-off designated areas for remediation and not carry out farming activities around those sites as this may pose great danger to their health.
A staff from the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit while addressing members of the communities informed them that in the course of the clean-up, the Unit will require some information from them that will assist them in carrying out their monitoring and evaluation of the project. He urged them to cooperative with officers and provide sincere answers to all questions.
Addressing the concerns of the communities, Dr. Dekil assured them that the clean-up project will provide an avenue for youths, women and local contractors to be actively engaged adding that the benefits from the clean-up will cascade to every commercial activity in all the communities.
He said HYPREP has taken deliberate steps to ensure local content inclusion in every aspect of the project.
The Head of Communication and Community Engagements Mr. Wasa told members of the communities that HYPREP will continuously engage all stakeholders as well as carry out sensitization exercise to ensure that there was no information gap.
He informed them that in a matter of weeks, contractors will mobilize to site.
He assured them that HYPREP will execute the clean-up project with transparency.
Chairmen of Alode and Obolo Ebubu Community, Elder Emmanuel Saloka and Hon. Prince Okochi Olaka who spoke on behalf of their respective community expressed gratitude to HYPREP for the good works they were doing especially with the news that contractors will soon mobilize to site even though they said the project had been delayed for too long.
They assured the HYPREP team of the full support of their communities and advised HYPREP to ensure that all relevant parties were consulted. They urged HYPREP to ensure fairness and equity in its dealings with the communities.
The community sensitization was attended by traditional rulers, Local Government Chairmen, Counsellors, Women Leaders, Youth Leaders, Women Groups, Students, Youths Groups and other members of the communities.