The federal government yesterday disclosed that 17 contaminated sites have been cleaned up and certified clean in Ogoniland, Rivers State.
It also stated that it has awarded contracts for six water projects in the area, while 400 Ogoni women have been trained in various small businesses like agriculture, aquaculture, poultry among others.
The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Mahmoud, made this known while answering questions from journalists at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
When asked about the level of work on the Ogoni clean-up exercise, he said: "I can tell you that project has moved forward, we have about 17 contaminated sites that have been cleaned up and certified, clean.
"Just yesterday (Tuesday) we passed the budget of the Ogoni clean-up otherwise known as Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). It has gotten a lot of boost.
"We have a brand new governing council. We have a brand new Board of Trustees (BoT), and we are increasing the participation of unions which ordinarily are technical support.
"And now we want to involve them even further by making them some kind of project management consultant. Also, we are looking forward to bringing in more indigenous people that will be part of this process. We have realised that for any project to succeed, you must have the buy-in of the community.
And then just recently also, we awarded contracts for six water projects, and these water projects should have been awarded earlier from the very beginning of the project.
"But we awarded it for over N6 billion. Again, we're working towards additional eight water projects that will be coming very soon. In fact, we just get the approval to advertise for that and also to go into the complex side."
According to him, the government was still working on the simple side of the project while the complex side would be coming soon, adding that it will include remediation of the soil and the groundwater.
The minister said: "So the project is moving fast, and we are catching up the little time we have lost in the last couple of years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There's also the component of livelihood, as we have just graduated 400 Ogoni women in various small businesses like agriculture, aquaculture, poultry, among others.
"Also, various youths have been trained as welders and plumbers, and we have also distributed 5,000 need assessment forms to the people to indicate their interest in the areas to be trained as part of the component of the cleanup."