The Ogun State government says it has launched an investigation into the allegation that wastewater from a multinational company, International Breweries, had contaminated three rivers serving as sources of drinking water to several communities in Orile-Imo, in the Obafemi-Owode area of the state.
This development is coming after a report by PUNCH Healthwise detailed how the wastewater, channelled into the water sources, allegedly led to huge environmental contamination, threatening both humans and aquatic lives.
The report titled, ‘Multinational brewery’s wastewater contaminates Ogun communities’ water sources, destroys aquatic life’, was published on Sunday, August 27, 2023.
Speaking with PUNCH Healthwise, the press officer, Ogun State Ministry of Environment, Mr. Rotimi Oduniyi, on Tuesday, revealed that the state government launched an investigation into the allegations levelled by the residents against the company as soon as it became aware of the report.
According to him, the state government is concerned and has set out to ascertain the veracity of the issues raised.
He said, “Some people from the ministry will be embarking on an independent investigation. The government is ready to get to the root of this matter.
“We would need PUNCH in the course of our investigation and hope you will be available when needed.”
According to the report, residents of the communities accused the multi-national company of being responsible for their woes, alleging that all wastewater from the facility was being emptied in its raw state into the sources of their drinking water.
They claimed that the communities relied on three ancient rivers – Ereku, Yemala, and Yeke as sources of seemingly good water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing before the multinational company came to the area.
In separate interviews with our correspondent, they alleged that the rivers have been contaminated and not fit for use due to their murky-coloured look and nauseous smell.
Among the affected communities are – Logbara, Kajola, Orile-Imo, Baara, Akinyemi, Idofa-Odo, Idofa-Oke, Bajila, Oguntayo, Olojo, Alakoka, Onibenbe, Awoo, Ogbara Onibata, Jibowu, Sangotedo and Lapooyo.
Even though these communities are at the receiving end of the pollution, Logbara bears the brunt due to its status as the host community.
International Breweries, based on residents’ accounts, came to the area with developmental promises to set up a $250m plant, but according to them, the reverse seems to be the case as the company’s activities, they alleged, are impacting negatively on the environment and humans.
According to them, aquatic lives have been eliminated completely, while, using the water for irrigation on farms, they claimed, has led to unfathomable losses.
When PUNCH Healthwise visited Logbara, a pungent odour hung in the atmosphere, even though one of the said rivers was still some distance away.
Though a solar-powered bore was provided by the company to ameliorate residents’ suffering when it became apparent that sources of water had become unusable, findings showed that it barely serves the residents, as it only offers droplets of water most of the time.
Our correspondent learnt that on days that the borehole is functional, which could be once a week, there is a mad rush to fetch as much as possible.
Subsequently, residents must ration their ‘bounty’ carefully or depend on water collected when it rains.
The tough and most dangerous alternative they are left with, it was learnt, would be to fall back on the stinky, polluted rivers that are linked by tributaries.