Inside FG’s Kano Ecological Project: the Progress, challenges, assurances

By Danlami Nmodu

( #kanoenvironment) The devastation of  Challawa,Sharada and Bompai  industrial areas remains a source of  concern. It was the relentless calls for help by stakeholders that triggered intervention by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration. Presently, phase one of the work going on there by the Federal Government is being  executed through a contract awarded to  Alps Global Link .For some residents,this development is a major source of hope.

Indeed, during a   visit to the industrial areas affected by pollution, the people openly  expressed   hope  and gratitude to government.In fact some of the residents aware of the intervention    sang  President Muhammadu Buhari’s praises. But more work needs to be done, one of  community members in Sharada  said.(Watch video)(#TrackNigeria)

Worthy of   note, according to officials is effort of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha,who “revived a dead project”. It was said to be dead because previous  calls for intervention  fell on deaf ears . Mustapha, ensured that a technical committee was raised to ensure appropriate recommendation for the intervention project in Kano’s ecological disaster. The renewed  efforts are coordinated by a woman insiders described as  the  “highly professional, knowledgeable”  Permanent Secretary of  Ecological Trust Fund, EFO, Dr Habiba M.  Lawal.

Still, how far is the intervention effort in Kano? Is it a reality or is there nothing on ground to show for the N2.6 billion project as some critics have  claimed?

Newsdiary online had recently reported an investigative story which revealed that Deutsch Africa Marketing Company felt shortchanged for not being awarded a contract for the intervention project in Kano.Government in a rejoinder  said it acted based on a the report by  a technical committee led by UNIDO which had recommended a technology for the project better than what Deutsch Africa had on offer.Even more the rejoinder revealed that the Kano  intervention project has  now been  divided into two stages namely: civil works and the more technical aspect.It was the contract for  the civil works that has been  awarded to Alps Global Links,after going through due process (including presidential approval, deliberations and approval by the   Federal  Executive Council as well as  the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP), the official reaction to our story said.

The Intervention: The scenes, the progress of work:

Contrary to claims of critics that there is no sign of work after  the contract was awared, Newsdiary online observed  in Kano,Wednesday November 20,2019 that there is work in progress.The project is indeed being carried out by Alps Global staff .The progress  is at varying levels of activity in the affected industrial areas amid evident scenes of  devastated environment. Even as work  goes on, emitted  effluent still evokes the need to speed up work: foul odour, still assails residents and passers-by, our correspondent reports.

At Sharada  industrial area for instance, there were channels where pipes had been laid by the company’s workers.There was palpable evidence of how the wastes had become a menace.Some of the concrete chambers have even become waterlogged but the engineers said,once the treatment plants are in place, all will be clear. Given the the level of work, an excited crowd comprising members of the local community in Sharada area   were indeed happy.

Of course, there were those who still expressed doubts  about any works going on.Swiftly,  the FG delegation and state officials led such residents of Sharada area to scenes of work to see the pipes, the concrete chambers among others for themselves.

Even more, telltale signs of the ravaging  environmental disaster were equally evident at Challawa Industrial Estate in Kano, Wednesday November 20, 2019. The foul odour emitted by the effluent  waste from the factories in the area. Workers were also  seen digging channels to lay pipe assailed all and sundry. At a nearby site too, pipes had been laid. To create diversion for the effluents in order to pave way for  the  proper  laying of  more pipe,a   huge portion of the land had been reclaimed.

As the team of journalists and officials moved so see further works being done, the engineers told Newsdiary online “You cannot come and stay here before(sic). It was smelly and highly polluted.We have reclaimed the land.What you are seeing is borrowed laterite.”

Describing the situation in Bompai to Newsdiary Online, an engineer said  work there had stalled after an agency of government insisted on being paid for the land upon which pipes would pass through;that  disagreement delayed progress.The issue has however been resolved by government now, he said.

Back to the scenes at Challawa, as the media team on inspection  moved down the channels,  the  effect of the destructive wastes was palpation.

One of the residents who spoke with the media team  said,  he along with others   live  in Panshekara area  nearby. He said “Actually, this chemical affected our area very  seriously,more especially the pollution and water borne diseases.

“Most of our wealth(sources of income ) have been affected by these chemicals

“We are very appreciative of the laudable job by the Federal government.

“We are the people living in that area.The project definitely pass through our people’s (farms). So we appeal to the Federal government to (look) at the farmers and see what they can do for the people this project pass through their land”(SIC)

A similar picture was painted at Shagari quarters Sharada industrial estate.Speaking about the menace of wastes,  Mallam Kabir Tudunwada  from Shagari quarters (See video)  spoke about the impact of pollution.

He said, “ we have been staying in Shagari quarter for the past  30  years.All this pollution has been with us and you  can see a lot of chemicals inside the water, you can see scratches(sic)  on our bodies,we cannot sleep always(because of the odour)

“We are happy now.We even fought with the directors  of environment over the pollution..Now we thank Government,we thank Buhari on the issue

Responding  to Newsdiary online question  about  what he thinks about those who said  nothing is going on to solve the environmental problem,Mallam  Kabir said, “now we can see it by ourselves.It was hearsay before.Now we see clearly that something is going on now, so we are very happy.”

A few basic deductions  can be made  from the submission by the residents.That the Ecological problem in Challawa,Sharada and Bompai areas are real.Newsdiaryonline was able to confirm that the civil works towards solving the problem are indeed  on-going,  but there are some challenges.

The visit to sharada came on the heels of claims by critics that nothing has been going on,no work and that the contractors are  not on site.But the evidence of work seen by our  editor  showed that  reinforced concrete slabs  had been construted in Sharada,  pipes have been laid.Significantly, the pipes and slabs  were not done a day before the media inspection team  arrived as many of the concrete slabs had dried up and they were of different sizes.

The pipes, it was revealed by officials would lead the effluents from industries to treatment plants which are however  yet  to be built at challawa and Sharada areas. “We are  only waiting for the state government to approve the  land after consultation with the people,” one of the engineers said

Surprisingly despite the evident work done in Sharada as confirmed by Mallam Kabir ,some  few residents claimed they had not seen any work.The Doubting Thomases  were eventually led by contractors and government officials to see the on-going projects.

A big lesson to draw from that incident  is that when you start a project for the people, announce your presence massively, possibly through the media.Working silently may be counterproductive

Challenges

The shocking twist   as earlier noted was that some residents were adamant on being compensated before pipe could pass  through their land or farmland

In Bompai for instance,  it was a government agency  that prevented work by insisting on  being paid.That delayed work for two months.But the matter has been resolved

At Challawa, the struggle for compensation remains a bottleneck as well , that is why further laying of pipes has slowed down.

Even more, the contractors, it was learnt are waiting for approval of land to site the treatment plants. “All that are required are on ground, including three incinerators  that have been imported .But the approval  of land by the state government is still being awaited,” Newsdiary Online was told.

Fresh assurances from Kano State Government

The  new Commissioner of Environment, Dr Ibrahim Getso in a chat with the media team as well as Federal Government’s delegation  gave assurances on Wednesday November 20 in his office in Kano  that compensation will be addressed.

While commending the federal government for the intervention project, he  also  said the tackling  the challenge  of environmental pollution remains a top priority of the government.See video.

We didn’t receive any preliminary  research  report from Deutsch Africa, says Kano official

A top director of  Kano State Ministry of Environment debunked Newsdiary online report that Deutsch Africa did preliminary research on the pollution,saying “You should have contacted us before breaking that story. He said companies such as MAP and Beacon  actually came and submitted report. No preliminary research report was submitted by the Deutsch Africa firm, the director described by his colleagues “as  very  knowledgeable” said. “Yes they came with some Germans but they were lecturers”, the official told Newsdiary online while showing copies of research report by MAP and Beacon.

Meanwhile, the civil works  which are going on are expected to be completed April, 2020. So far,  an official of Alps Global told Newsdiary online the work has attained  almost 75% completion.Once the little challenges  are over come, they will round up and pave way for the second part of the project.

The communities affected by pollution expect nothing less.

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