The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, has said efforts by her ministry to complete all remediation activities in the lead-contaminated areas in Bagega village, Zamfara State by June this year was on course.
Mallafia said 300 compounds representing 75 per cent of the lead-contaminated area had been remediated and rendered safe for habitation.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Mr. Lawrence Ojabo, said the Mallafia gave the safety assurance last Friday at Bagega village, while receiving the members of the Good Governance tour led by the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku who inspected the ongoing remediation works at the project site.
According to the statement, the minister said the ministry hoped to complete all remediation activities in June 2013, after which the Federal Ministry of Health would move into the site to render further medical intervention for the victims of the lead poisoning.
She said the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development would also step in to educate the people and ensure that they henceforth adopted safer mining practices.
She further stated that the ministry and the state Ministry of Environment would continue to carry out education and advocacy campaigns among the populace to prevent further or future recurrence of lead poisoning epidemic in the area.
While explaining the nature of the remediation being carried out, Mallafia said the work involved the sequential and mechanical removal of exposed surfaces which were scientifically and safely replaced with new sand or cement materials.
“She informed the Good Governance team that the exercise involved several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and international technical partners, at a total cost of N800 million fully borne by the federal government.
She also revealed that the works were consistent with international best practices and of the highest possible standards.
Mallafia said technical expertise and supervision was being provided by Messrs. Terragraphics Consultants working with Medicines Sans Frontiers (msf),
The technical consultant, Mr. Simba of Terragraphics, promised that the works were of the best possible standards.
He recalled that the lead poisoning in Barclay had been the worst ever experienced in the word.
He opined that children exposed to the poison world be irrevocably affected for life.
He stated that they would be issuing a certificate in June 2013 attesting that Bagega village was clean.
The statement quoted Maku as having regretted the incident that brought about the poisoning which he blamed on unsafe open earth mining practices in the past.
He said the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel would try to address the issue after remediation by the Federal Ministry of Environment