Ogun Community kicks as firms' Wastewater endangers residents

There is a brewing tension in the Ayo Irewole community in the Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State as residents are lamenting the danger that wastewater allegedly being discharged by companies located on the Veepee Industrial Avenue pose to them.

The residents, while speaking to PUNCH Metro, identified some of the firms as Olympic Ink Company, Arvee Nigeria Limited, Unique Pharmaceutical Limited, Bhumee Nigeria Limited and Pure Chem Manufacturing Limited.
According to the residents, the wastewater, which contains suspected toxic substances, usually make its way into their boreholes and wells to contaminate the water used to sustain themselves.

Due to the underground water pollution, our correspondent learnt that many residents had abandoned their boreholes and wells, and now depended on neighbouring communities for unpolluted water.

A landlord in the area, Elijah Omoware, said the companies' wastewater had contaminated the underground water in the community and changed it to different colours, adding that water from boreholes and wells was no longer good for human consumption.

The civil servant stated, "We were not experiencing this before, but suddenly, strange hot liquid chemicals of different colours started coming out from our taps at home and this prompted us to quickly petition the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area, the state Ministry of the Environment and the state government to save us, because our investigation revealed that the wastewater released by the companies on the Veepee Industrial Avenue was the cause of the water pollution that is endangering our lives."

"We have also informed the companies of the danger that the wastewater poses, but nothing concrete has been done to solve the problem. We want the government to come to our rescue so that these companies can be cautioned."

Another residents, Monday Aliu, who said the wastewater passes through the underground pipes, stated, "When the wastewater passes through the pipes, it gets released into the community and from the point of release, the wastewater makes its way into our boreholes and wells and pollute our water."

"As I speak to you, we have abandoned our boreholes and wells, and now go to nearby communities to get clean water."

The Chairman of the Ayo Irewole Community Development Association, Sikiru Jimoh, said the wastewater had destroyed residents' properties, adding that an expert, who visited the community to assess the situation, condemned the action of the companies and warned of the inherent hazards of the wastewater.

Documents obtained by PUNCH Metro from the lawyer to the community, Yemisi Adebayo, revealed that appropriate authorities, including the affected firms, the state Ministry of the Environment and the state police command had been notified of the development, but the challenges had not been addressed.

The spokesperson for the companies, who was identified simply as Benson, denied the allegation saying, "The person you spoke to is not telling you the truth; the allegation is wrong. I want you to contact the Chairman, Area Community Development Association, Musibau Balogun, to find out the true position of things. The ACDA cannot lie to you, so speak to the chairman."

When contacted, Balogun, alleged that wastewater pollution from the companies had killed a resident, adding that over 33 CDAs, including Ayo Irewole, which is the closest to the companies, were affected, adding that the firms, through Benson, had commenced palliative measures to solve the problems caused by the wastewater.

Balogun said, "The companies, in most cases, discharge their wastewater whenever it rains and it usually floods the community. Some years back, the wastewater from the companies killed someone at Ere Ibunkun. We have staged a rally against the firms; so, the challenge is not peculiar to the Ayo Irewole CDA alone as we have 33 CDAs under the central ACDA, some of which are also affected."

"To solve this challenge, we held a meeting where it was concluded that the companies needed to fulfil their corporate social responsibility to the community. We also wrote a letter to the state environment ministry and an engineer was sent to study the whole issue and we held a meeting with the companies' representatives and it was agreed that they should jointly engage a contractor to construct a drainage that will channel the wastewater to the canal."

"The project was scheduled to be done in three stages; the first phase involves digging the ground to channel the drainage to the canal, then construction of the culvert at adjoining junctions, and lastly, construction of the concrete drainage."

"The first two phases were done but the last phase has not been executed, but Benson has been making plans to ensure that the companies contribute for the completion of the project."

When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Mr Kunle Somorin, said investigation into the matter would be undertaken to determine the nature of the toxicity of the wastewater and proffer solutions to keep the residents safe.

"I will like to know the name of the person who was killed, the nature of the toxicity of the wastewater and what the environment ministry has done since it was contacted. We cannot leave our people to die in vain," Somorin said.

Culled from The Punch Newspaper, Ocotber 2019