Amaechi Commissions $4.5m Aleto-Eleme Water Scheme Project

Rotimi-AmaechiGov. Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, on Tuesday inaugurated a 4.5 million Dollars (N720 m) Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) sponsored water scheme project at Aleto-Eleme

Amaechi said at the inauguration in Aleto-Eleme, in Eleme local government that the project would supply portable drinking water to about 40, 000 people in five communities in the area.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project is in-line with the recommendation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on the area.

The Report stated that oil spills had contaminated both surface and ground water at levels more than 900 times above the World Health Organisation (WHO) prescribed safety limit.

It recommended that the Nigerian authorities compel multinational oil companies operating in the area to clean up the pollution caused by decades of oil exploration in the area.

Amaechi said that SPDC provided about 4.5 million dollars for the project while the state government executed it.

He explained that SPDC was not responsible for the oil pollution in Aleto-Eleme but agreed to fund the project as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

“To an Eleme man; there is no difference between SPDC and NNPC and so for me as a Governor of Rivers state I get very worried that we are losing people every day because of the (crude) oil that they are collecting.

“Companies are collecting our oil; companies are collecting our money and our people are dying. We need to get water first to Eleme, and then we go to Khana, Tai, Okirika and Oyibo.

“The water scheme will feed about 40, 000 Eleme people. I have directed the Commissioner for Water Resources to expand the Eleme water scheme so that it can reach the remaining communities that don’t have; no politics about that.

“The council chairman and His Royal Majesty (of Eleme) will arrange to set up a community-based team and their responsibility is to ensure that they manage the funding (for maintenance) and the water.”

Amaechi thanked SPDC for its initial approach of “trucking of portable water to some local communities” before the completion of the water scheme.

In his response, Managing Director of SPDC, Mr Mutiu Sunmonu, who was represented by SPDC Director for Business and Government Relations unit, Mr. Jimmy Ahmed said the project which started in Aug. 2012, was aimed to address potable water challenges faced by some communities.

He said the project was executed through a public-private partnership which involved SPDC providing the funds and technical expertise, while the state government provided infrastructure, supervision and management.

The paramount ruler of the area, Chief Samuel Oluka Ejire expressed optimism that the water scheme would reduce mortality rate caused by polluted water.

He said the project meant that “both SPDC and the government have partly elongated our lives and for which we are happy and excited”. (NAN)

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