The Federal Government on Monday flagged off the construction of six water facilities in Ogoniland, Rivers State.
Flagging off the projects in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar, said eight additional water projects would be inauguration in the area.
Abubakar said the first phases of the projects would be cited in Bori, Khana, Khana Local Government, in Barako, B-Dere and K-Dere communities, Gokana LGA, in Korokoro, Tai LGA and in Alesa and Ebubu communities, Eleme LGA, all in the state.
The Minister recalled that the Federal Executive Council had on March 3, 2021, approved the award of the six water projects for the supply of portable drinking water in Ogoniland, at the cost of over N6billion.
Abubakar announced that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had insisted that nothing short of what the United Nations Environment Report and nothing short of the best should be delivered to the Ogoni people.
He disclosed that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) had awarded 57 lots for remediated, while 16 lots have already been completed and six have been certified and closed out as remediated sites and the remaining are at various stages of progress.
“It is my honour and privilege to officially flag off the commencement of construction of these water facilities. You are going to have a much bigger tank that is 400 cubic metres of water. That is a lot of water for the people of the community and we are not stopping there.
“This is a major milestone, though coming late, but nevertheless commendable as it ignites hope in the people of Ogoni in the provision of the long-awaited portable water.
“The implementation of the UNEP report was a promise made by His Excellency, President Muhamadu Buhari during his political campaign. Therefore, when I presented the water supply contract to him on the 3rd of March at the federal executive council, he had no problem approving the contract.”
“This will help to identify appropriate skills for youths, women and men that can be developed to provide an alternative livelihood, which is also part of the UNEP report.
“I wish to commend the support of the Rivers State Government for allowing HYPREP to take over the rehabilitation of the existing water supply to the host communities before entering into partnership and agreement for sustainable operation and management of the project.
“As you know, today is World Water Day, on our part, we have chosen to join the world on this special day to flag off the water scheme. The handover of these six contracts today is the first phase of many other programmes to come as I have mentioned earlier,” the Minister said.
He added that the training of 400 Ogoni women in Agric business at the Songhai farm in collaboration with the government of Rivers State was ongoing, in line with the recommendations in the UNEP report,
Earlier, Acting Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof. Philp Shekwolo, admitted that the provision of water should have been the first project, however, he said it was better late than never.
“This is a very special project, even the contractors know that it is a special project The Ogoni clean up is in the heart of the President, and we will do everything possible to make it a reality.
“The livelihoods training is also ongoing. We need the cooperation of the Ogoni people, the youths, elders and traditional rulers to make it successful.
Chairman of Khna Local Government Area, Later Lah Loolo, assured of the council support in making the project a reality and to ensure that it was sustained.