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Minister clarifies slow pace of Ogoni cleanup project

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Minister of the Environment, Dr. Mohammed M. Abubakar, has attributed the slow pace of remediation work in Ogoni land to disruption by restive youths in some impacted communities.

He explained that the communities have started collecting levies, extorting coordinators and making attempts to hijack control of the project from contractors, adding that sand mining activities in some project sites was also hindering the cleanup exercise.

Abubakar, who spoke in Abuja, yesterday, cited communal land disputes and chieftaincy tussles, flooding in sites near swampy terrains, saying in spite of the drawbacks, construction works had commenced in some lots.

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Noting that the Ogoni cleanup is a litmus test, he stressed that the Federal Government would soon extend the exercise to other states of the Niger Delta region, explaining that the ongoing remediation was the flagship of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He pointed out that the project involved the decontamination of groundwater, particularly in the impacted communities, remediation of contaminated soil in upland areas, as well as restoration and management of degraded mangrove vegetation.

“As of today, HYPREP had completed 17 sites, of which the National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA) has closed out 10 sites. The remaining five are yet to be completed and are at various stages of completion,” he said.

The minister also disclosed that about 2,000 temporary jobs were created in the course of the project in the four council areas of Ogoniland, besides the indirect jobs in form of trading and support activities.

On artisanal refineries, Abubakar lamented that the Federal Government had tackled the menace, but was yet to get to its root causes, adding that the development had become a major challenge to government.

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