Evidence contradicts Hyprep chairman’s water projects claim in Ogoni

The Chairman of  Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (Hyprep), the agency created by the Nigerian government to handle Ogoni cleanup project, Dr Mike Nwielaghi, has said that the body has provided water for the people of Ogoni. However, evidence shows that the claim is mostly misleading.

After a four-day tour to supervise contracts awarded by Hyprep in August 2023, Nwielaghi granted an interview with newsmen, claiming that “the whole Ogoni has been covered” in terms of water projects.

“A lot of water projects have been completed. These are reticulated water projects. The water goes round the communities. In Kpean, some people have started drinking water from the project. Barako is drinking, Terabor is also drinking. The PCO has come up with another 14 water projects meaning that the whole Ogoni has been covered,” he claimed.

Misleading claim

However, this newspaper can confirm that this claim is misleading. One of our reporters visited Geken community in Gokana Local Government Area, one of the four councils in Ogoniland, and found that there was no water project set up by Hyprep. The water source used in the household of the Paramount Ruler of Geken, Mr Torbari Michael Gbeanvee, as at August 2023, was rainfall. Much of the water was contaminated with impurities and appeared acidic.Geken paramount ruler, Torbari Michael Gbeanvee

Gbeanvee said Hyprep promised to provide a water system for the community but failed to do so.Water used by paramount ruler of Geken

“Hyprep came in 2022 and implored us to provide land for the water project. We did that but they are yet to return. A water station set up by the government has been abandoned. We are stranded and hope that things will change,” he noted.

The reporter also visited Lewe, one of the communities in Gokana Local Government Area. Incidentally, the community “is not drinking,” as claimed by Hyprep chairman. Hyprep’s tap at Lewe which does not produce water

The tap in the community was not producing water and had been there for at least one year, according to residents.

“Hyprep has been here four times, promising to provide water, but they are yet to return. The taps they set up here have not produced water. The only tap producing water here was a constituency project by a politician representing us at the House of Representatives,” said Paramount Ruler of Lewe, Chief Lebaton Sibe.

Hyprep has also set up a water tap at a community named Kpor in Gokana Local Government Area, but it was not producing water. Paramount Ruler of Kpor, Mr Mene Avalobavi, said his community had no water and Hyprep’s taps were stil dry.

Paramount Ruler of Kpor, Mene Avalobavi

“Hyprep has assured that they will provide water in this community, but we are still waiting. We hope that we will get water from them and also have our community remediated,” he noted.

At Bera, a community in Gokana Local Government, a water tank was seen outside the general hospital but was not producing water.

At Wiyaakara in Khana Local Government Area, the reporter did not see any water facility set up by Hyprep. A member of the community, Ms Regina Whyte, said her family had suffered water-borne diseases three times, noting that there was no water tap set up by Hyprep yet.

“There is no water tap anywhere. We believe that Hyprep is just deceiving the public,” she said.

Chairman, Wiyaakara Council of Chiefs and Elders, Dr Goddy Nwikpo, said Hyprep had not lived up to its expectations, stressing that neither water not remediation project had been properly done.

However, Hyprep spokesman, Mr Kpobari Mafo, said a lot of water projects had been done in the four local governments in Ogoni, urging the reporter to come to Port Harcourt so that the body would take him round.

But he did not answer questions as to why the Hyprep’s chairman’s claim fell flat in the face of field evidence.

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