BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
The minister of Environment Mr. Muhammed Abdulahi says Ogoni Cleanup has made history as the largest restoration of mangrove ecosystem in the world with the assessment of two thousand one hundred and ninety-six hectares of coastal areas.
Mr. Abdulahi who made the revelation during HYPREP Shoreline Remediation sensitization at Kpor, Gokana Local Government Area Headquarters, told participants that five million seedlings of mangroves will be required for the full restoration of the ecosystem.
The minister who was represented by the Project Coordinator HYPREP, Dr. Ferdinand Giadom said that the coastal area remediation which is classified as the medium and complex sites in Ogoni cleanup will create a lot of job opportunities as about eight persons will be required to work within a hectare of remediation site.
“In preparation for take-off of the shoreline inter-tidal remediation, we have assessed a total area of 2,196 hectares and allotted it into 549 grids of 200m by 200m per grid.”
“The assessed coastal lines are in B-Dere, K-Dere, Kpor and Goi communities of Gokana Local Government Area.”
“These communities will host the pilot of the shoreline remediation and from there we will progress to the rest coastal communities where there is pollution.”
“The sensitization programme today is the first in the series of scheduled activities to commence the shoreline remediation works.”
While warning against re-pollution of the remediation sites, Dr. Giadom noted that Ogoni youths that would be engaged in the Swampy area remediation will be trained and certified in International Maritime Organization, IMO, levels one and two while their supervisors will obtain level three certification.
He explained that petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants can cause hormonal imbalance, such as inability to get and retain pregnancy, irritability leading to getting angry very easily and destruction of aquatic life.
According to the project coordinator, Selection of labour shall be 40 percent from community leadership while 60 percent will be done by open balloting systems to ensure a transparent process.
The PC revealed that the workers will be first aiders, nurses, office assistants, safety officers and supervisors, adding that they must all be certified swimmers, medically certified and physically fit.
“Those are reserved positions for the communities, but it does not in any way preclude any qualified persons in the communities that have higher skills from applying to work for the remediation companies.”
“The size of the workforce would be determined by the quantum of work on each site, and it is important we state that, so that, we do not erroneously use the quota of one community to determine that of the other.”
“In view of the enormous economic opportunities that are coming on stream for our people, I will solicit the support of the communities and the larger Ogoni community for HYPREP to achieve set goals and objectives.”
“We need not fight ourselves rather we should close ranks at this time and work together”
A guest speaker Professor John Onwuteaka who stressed the importance of mangroves and the opportunities it creates, encouraged the people to be serious about nursing of mangroves to be able to benefit from the carbon and biodiversity credit therein.
Professor Onwuteaka who described Biodiversity credit as the total restoration of the ecosystem and the financial gains that comes with it, expressed optimism that the mangrove restoration will project the image of Ogoni land to the world as pace setters in the biodiversity credit.
On his part, the President Ogoni Youth Federation, Mr. Legborsi Yamaabana acknowledged the progress in the cleanup exercise and called on the youths to create enabling environment for a speedy process.