Govt warns against drinking from Osun River

As the grand finale of the annual Osun festival takes place today, the Osun State Government has warned tourists, devotees and visitors not to drink water from the Osun River due to contamination.

The State’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Rafiu Isamotu gave the warning in an interview with newsmen on Thursday in Osogbo.

Recall that in December, a civic group, Urban Alert, raised the alarm that the Osun river has been heavily contaminated with mercury, lead, cyanide and other injurious elements that are poisonous to human health.

Laboratory Tests and Geographical Information Analysis established the presence of heavy elements in the river and blamed it on the activities of miners.

Confirming the presence of deadly elements in the Osun River, on Thursday, the State government said it has embarked on the sensitisation to discourage people from drinking the water during the festival as it had been contaminated by the activities of artisanal miners and dangerous for human consumption.

“There are radio jingles on the health hazard of drinking water from the Osun River due to contamination,” Isamotu said while speaking with journalists.

He noted that the government cannot stop the activities of Osun festival as it is “a cultural thing and no matter how hard you try, some people will not oblige,” while assured that the government will continue to sensitise the devotees.

“There may not be a quick fix to this pollution, but as a government, we will continue to do the needful,” he said.

The commissioner disclosed that public health officials would be at the grove during the festival to further sensitise people on the dangers of drinking the water.

“Government has taken cognizance of this pollution and is working really hard to prevent the activities of artisanal miners. It is a menace; it is very difficult, but we cannot fold our arms,’’ he stressed.