Government kick-starts N256m clean-up for Shikira lead contaminated sites
The intrigues that have characterized a devastating outbreak of lead poison that killed 28 children and left over 300 hundred others with high level contaminants came to close recently as the Federal Government finally bowed to public pressure and commenced the clean-up of Shikira, a small rural mining community situated in Rafi local government area, Niger State.
The clean up by the Federal Ministry of Environment is coming on the heels of the Minister’s visit to the community to assess the situation, which opened the mind of government to the depth of the epidemic, which subsequently facilitated the commencement of the exercise.
In May 2012, Occupational Knowledge International (Ok International) submitted a report to the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals highlighting flash points of informal mining site is Nigeria that uses dangerous substances and mining techniques, which are also prone to lead poison.
In this report, Niger, Ebonyi, Nassarawa, Kaduna among other states where mentioned. The outbreak of lead in Niger state shows that nothing was done to curtail the use of unhealthy chemicals that has taken innocent lives and mostly children.
Now hope is in sight 15 months after, as government has released N256, 688,000 appropriated in the 2016 budget for ‘Characterization and Remediation of Lead Poison Contaminated Communities’. It would be recalled that in 2010, 400 children lost their lives and over 1, 500 others were infected due to a similar occurrence in Bagega, Anka local government area in Zamfara State.
One of the groups that campaigned for the remediation of the Shikira community, Connected Development [CODE] is extremely excited with the development. The
Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal who doubles as the Co-Founder, Follow The Money stated that “the exercise is mostly profound in the sense that at the moment it is expected to prevent further exposure, open the door of opportunity for the treatment of those already affected as well as restore back the ecosystem and ensure livelihood sources.
“Follow The Money Team, while celebrating this significant landmark in history of the Nigerian mining industry, also want the government to be transparent in carrying out this assignment and come up with a clear work plan showing the actual amount budgeted and a definitive time frame for completion of the project.”
The group called on the federal ministry of Solid Minerals to revisit that OK International report and ensure that its recommendations are followed in subsequent interventions and plans to avert any possible repeat of the ugly situation elsewhere in the country.
He urged the National Assembly to review the 2007 Mining Act to capture present realities in the industry, empower host communities and permanently address the challenges bedeviling large and small-scale artisanal mining activities in Nigeria.
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