Dutch Embassy Visits Bodo Cleanup Project Site

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By: Bariton Lezabbey

Delegates from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Abuja visited the Bodo Cleanup Project site on the 20th of October 2021 to see the amount of work completed and the efforts made to ensure the continued success of the Project in line with best practice.

During the visit, the Dutch Embassy delegates handed out International Maritime Organization (IMO) Level 1 & 2 certificates to workers who have been trained and certified as oil spill response personnel. Afterwards, the delegates toured Bodo creek to see the application of the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) for site assessments and activities of the remediation contractors. They also planted mangrove seedlings in the remediated area for future monitoring. The SCAT Team Leader, Nicholas Story, reiterated to the visitors the procedures of SCAT and how it contributes to the overall success of the Project. He stated that “SCAT is the eyes and ears of the Bodo Cleanup Project and it allows us the ability to make confident decisions regarding completion of cleanup activities”.

In her speech, Cornelia Looije, the Dutch Embassy Political Affairs Counselor, stated that “the Embassy is committed to seeing a clean and restored Bodo that will create opportunity for fishing and enhance the livelihood of the community”.  Duly recognizing that the Project has come a long way by achieving 60 percent of total hectares remediated, Ms. Cornelia applauded all stakeholders involved in attaining this significant feat. Commenting finally, Cornelia stated that “as supporter of the Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI), the Embassy will keep holding the BMI process to its highest standard so that the cleanup will be done in the best possible way with the buy-in of all players involved”.

Speaking on behalf of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Dr. Vincent Nwabueze highlighted the gains of the BMI and noted that five years ago it was difficult for the Bodo Community leadership and SPDC team to sit at the same table, but that has changed given the positive outcomes from the Bodo mediation process. Dr. Nwabueze reiterated that “SPDC will continue to demonstrate the commitment to this Cleanup” …despite the various challenges associated with the Project. With the collaborative efforts from all stakeholders the Project is still progressing. The IMO certificates being issued to the second batch of 800 trained workers is an empowerment that will enhance the capacity and employability of Bodo youths on cleanup and remediation projects within and beyond the Niger Delta. In his conclusive statement, the SPDC rep expressed confidence that the revegetation program, which includes planting roughly 2 million mangrove seedlings, will greatly help restore the mangrove ecosystem within the Bodo estuary. He however informed the audience that a sensitization programme is being planned to help caution people to stop cutting down the juvenile mangroves for whatever use as early harvesting of the mangroves is counter-productive to the successful restoration of the eco-system.

The Paramount Ruler of Bodo, King John Berebon while welcoming the Dutch Embassy stated that “the leadership and indigenes of Bodo recognize that the Netherlands is our home abroad”. He also commended the effort and commitment of SPDC to cleanup Bodo. In his final remarks, King John acknowledged that it takes a deliberate effort to have a safe environment; therefore, it will be more effective for all parties involved, especially the Bodo community members, to defend and protect the juvenile mangroves from being harvested indiscriminately.

 

As part of their trip to Bodo, the Dutch Embassy representatives visited the Bodo City Girls Secondary School Environment Club to view their mangrove nursery. The Girls School Environment Club had set up a mangrove nursery with about 3000 seedlings. When asked the objective of the Environment Club and the reason for setting up a mangrove nursery, the Club President, Miss Favour Alawa stated that the Environment Club was initiated to educate students on how to protect the environment and to teach others the benefits of having a clean environment.  The Club leader noted that, “we have learnt a lot about the importance of mangroves to the ecosystem and how beneficial it is in aiding the restoration of aquatic habitat especially in the light of the Remediation Project in Bodo. With the assistance of the Dutch Embassy through the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), we decided to set up a mangrove nursery to provide seedlings for the restoration phase of the Cleanup activity going on in Bodo”. She also appealed to the Dutch Embassy to support the Club with more access to learning tools and training in eco-system conservation.

The BMI Co-Chair, Rev. Fr. Abel Agbulu applauded the efforts of the students for setting-up a mangrove nursery and encouraged them to be good ambassadors that will advocate for environmental protection to preserve the wealth of the mangrove habitat within the Bodo creeks.

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