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173 Koko toxic waste evacuators seek government compensation


Toxic waste containers

Toxic waste containers

About 173 evacuators of the Koko toxic waste dumped in the Delta State community have petitioned the Federal Government, seeking for compensation over the dangerous work executed by them 28 years ago.

The evacuators, said to be contract workers, were hired by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to evacuate the toxic waste allegedly shipped into the country by an Italian company in 1988.

Some of the evacuators, residents of Koko community, have therefore petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their rescue.

The petition signed by one Shedrick Mofe, a copy of which was made available to The Guardian reads in part: “We humbly appeal to Mr. President to come to our aid. We were hired to evacuate the waste allegedly dumped by an Italian firm. We did our job and until now we have not be compensated.”

Sheriff Keamah, one of the evacuators told our reporter that many of them who did the risky job, were yet to be compensated by the government.

He disclosed that six of them were in critical health conditions. Unconfirmed sources also said over forty of the workers had lost their lives due to complications arising from direct exposure to the toxic chemicals. Investigation revealed that one Silver Ajamo supervised the evacuation exercise and the workers were hired by a firm, Tonald Associates, which was also said to have been hired by the NPA.

The family of one of the deceased evacuators, Sunday Nana, had relocated elsewhere as a result of the noticeable changes on the plants in his immediate abode, where grasses have changed colour.

“The soil had remained useless for cultivation for farming purposes,” the source told The Guardian.

Attempts by our reporter to speak with the medical director in charge of the Koko General Hospital, Dr. Mukoro Simeon, did not yield any result as his staff insisted he was not available for comments.

Our reporter had wanted him to confirm if any of the patients brought to the hospital recently had shown signs of toxic-related ailment.

A non-governmental organization, Paths to Freedom, which had volunteered to fight for the remaining affected workers for compensation, confirmed that over 40 of those involved in the assignment had died of strange ailments.

Mr. Dandy Eze of the Paths to Freedom, however, cautioned the remaining evacuators against taking the law into their hands in the course of their agitation.

Further checks revealed that in 2008, the Federal Government paid compensation to some NPA staff, who were involved in the exercise. Contract workers were however, not paid. Ajamo was quoted as saying that the money was not paid to the right persons who carried out the exercise.

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