AS part of its efforts to draw the attention of critical stakeholders to clean-up of the contaminated 213km Osun River, a civil society group championing the course, Urban Alert, has written the Federal Government to address the situation urgently.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, the group urged the government to save the world heritage site and over 2m people linked to the river from the imminent disaster the pollution of the water from lead, cyanide and other harmful heavy metals.
The team lead, Anthony Adejuwon, who wrote the Minster said the organisation has been making frantic efforts to seek the commitment of stakeholders to the development which has persisted for over four years.
Adejuwon said through the usage of technology, the organisation and a team of experts identified the numerous harmful substances in the river and how it is capable of resorting to a national emergency when the resultant effect happens.
He said, “Sometimes in 2018, water in the Osun River from which Osun State derived its name suddenly changed colour from its normal transparent appearance to brown. Initially, residents of Osun State thought the change was a result of flood which will only be a temporary issue but this scary brownish colour has persisted for more than four years without any hope for remediation.
“As an organisation driven by facts with a foundation firmly rooted in data, we carried out Geographical Information Analysis and Laboratory Tests to ascertain the cause of Osun River pollution and affirm the elements in the water.
“Our scientific examinations revealed that the Osun River is being polluted by the activities of illegal and unregulated licensed gold miners in some parts of Osun State. Further physicochemical test has shown that the Osun River has been heavily contaminated with mercury, lead, and cyanide at levels detrimental to humans and livestock.
“Undoubtedly, the harmful contamination of the Osun River due to mining activities has put over two (2)million people living in more than twenty (20) communities of Osun State in danger. Due to the importance of the river which serves as source of water for cultural, domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes, citizens are exposed to cancer and other deadly diseases.
“We are aware that the root cause of the Osun River contamination is under the exclusive list and the Osun State Government in April 2021 constituted the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO).
“Unfortunately, MIREMCO’s ability to end the water poisoning is unreassuring as illegal and unregulated licensed gold miners continue to contaminate the river unhindered. We, therefore, call on your ministry to act now by restoring the water bodies and ending the contamination of the Osun River by activating extant laws regarding mining and the environment as contained in sections 111, 114,123,124, 126 and 127 of the Minerals and Mining Act 2007 which protects the environment and water courses.”