Oil Legacy: Soil from the banks of a polluted river in B-Dere, Ogoniland.
A much-touted oil spill clean-up in southern Nigeria has yet to begin in parts of the Ogoniland hotspot almost three years after the contracts were awarded, and residents are left without adequate drinking water, according to a report on Thursday.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude oil producer, has struggled for decades with oil spills that sparked social unrest and even militancy across the Niger Delta.
The kingdom of Ogoniland, in the state of Rivers, home to around a million people, has become emblematic of the problem after years of oil and gas exploration and production through a joint venture with Shell.
After mass protests led by activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and the so-called Ogoni Nine, Shell stopped production in 1993.
After an assessment of the area by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) 10 years ago, the Nigerian government promised to repair the damage.
The UN said at the time that an initial purge would cost $ 1 billion and take five years. In January 2019, the clean-up work finally began.
But a report by two NGO observers that released more than half of the five-year period says the cleanup is likely to take much longer.
“We can see some progress and it’s important to acknowledge that,” said Florence Kayemba, program director for the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), which co-authored the report with the Center for Human Rights and Development (CEHRD).
Over 1,000 temporary jobs for community members with cleanup jobs have been created, observers said.
Thirteen out of 50 lots that were considered “easy” to clean have been certified as complete, they added.
“However, this is only a quarter … and we have yet to start cleaning complex websites, so this shows that we still have a long way to go,” said Calvin Laing, executive director of SDN.
“This five-year target now seems unrealistic.”
Emergency measures ordered by the United Nations in 2011 “have yet to be delivered,” the report said.
“Communities that were found to have heavily contaminated drinking water sources in 2011 still have no access to improved, safe drinking water sources,” it said.
“Community health surveys that would help understand the effects of pollution have yet to begin.”
Cleanup needs to be done “much faster,” added Kayemba, but “without sacrificing quality.”
SDN and CEHRD set up an interactive online dashboard on Thursday to track progress.
The cleansing of Ogoniland was “crucial”, said Laing, as it “could also serve as a template for elsewhere in the Niger Delta”.
Earlier this year, Shell agreed to provide around 95 million euros to the communities in Ogoniland.
Signs of cleanup in Nigeria’s polluted Ogoniland
© 2021 AFP
Quote: Oil cleanup in southern Nigeria is still a long way off (2021, October 7th), accessed on October 7th, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-oil-cleanup-southern-nigeria.html
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