By Gladys Nweke
Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) has refuted allegations that Ogoni clean-up programme was at variance with the recommendations documented in the report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil, said the Federal Government has rather re-engaged UNEP to work with HYPREP in the field and in the office to provide technical support and build the capacity of staff on the project.
Dr Dekil who maintained that HYPREP has not in any way deviated from the recommendations of UNEP in its operations, also said the people of Ogoni are receptive and supportive of the clean-up project.
A statement by HYPREP Head of Information, Mrs. Ekaete Umo, said Dekil who was speaking at a live television interview, highlighted the activities of HYPREP from inception, its achievements and progress as well as the current status of the project.
He said that to successfully implement the UNEP Report submitted eight years ago, HYPREP had to prioritize some of the activities that were not considered emergency at the time the report was submitted without deviating from the recommendations.
The Project Coordinator said one of the first activities HYPREP embarked on was to carry out a mapping of the existing water facilities in the entire Ogoniland because the UNEP Report identified water as one of the critical things that needed to be provided for the population.
The re-engagement of UNEP is a demonstration of the commitment of the Federal Government to the clean-up of Ogoni in strict compliance with the recommendations of UNEP.
The UNEP Technical Team during its one-week assessment visit to HYPREP office studied the activities of Project since its inception and confirmed that the implementation process was in line with the recommendations in the UNEP Report.
This HYPREP had carried out two medical outreaches across the four Local Government Areas of Ogoniland where over 20,000 patients were treated and over 400 surgeries carried out.
The medical outreach that has served as an intervention as well as provide a platform for gathering the initial data for the health impact study recommended by UNEP, contrary to some speculations that HYPREP has not implemented the emergency measures.
Further more, the Project Coordinator said HYPREP has adopted a thorough process that will enable the provision of sustainable potable water in Ogoniland.
He stressed that the process for the implementation of the water project has reached an advanced stage and that the list of pre-qualified contractors for the provision of water and health impact study has been published on the project website.
Dr. Marvin Dekil dispelled insinuations that members of the impacted communities were excluded from the project, adding that the project had carried out a series of engagements with the various groups and segments within and outside the communities.
He noted that HYPREP has consciously trained and engaged youths both in the field and in the office with about 90percent of the staff made up of youths from the impacted communities while assuring members of the public that HYPREP procurement activities are carried out in line with Federal Government guidelines.