Some concerned Nigerians, resident in the city of Port-Harcourt decided to take the bull by the horn and take this plea to both the state and federal governments, away from the walls of social media to the streets. Some just talked the talk but could not walk the walk. That was not the case here as these set of concerned citizens who are passionate about the environment and well-being of the people did both the “walking” and “talking’.
As scheduled, the meeting kicked off at Isaac Boro Park by 8am on Saturday, 11th of February, 2017 and we proceeded to the media houses to make our voices heard and finally to the Government House. We proceeded to the Rhythm FM Port-Harcourt and as fate would have it, we met both the Commissioners of Information and Environment.
The campaigners were given the opportunity to air their voices which they did, most notably by Hilda Dokubo, who was part of the campaigners.
The first address was given by the Commissioner of Information who said an Asphalt plant believed to be part of the soot generating company has already been shut down along Obiri-Ikwere axis. He also reiterated the fact that the Joint Task Force (JTF) has already been put in place long before now to monitor and curb any activities endangering the environment.
He said due to the program of the illegal refining which has been going on for years in the state, the recession has made more people look into the this line of business and as such worsened the negative environmental impact of their activities in the state.
He called on the major security stakeholders to make sure they act responsibly in the course of bombing of illegal refineries. He said it must be done in an environmental-friendly manner. He called on the community elders and chiefs who are privy to the activities of the illegal refiners not to withhold information during investigation.
The Commissioner of Environment also mentioned that the environmental test was carried out on the 23rd of December, 2016 at two different locations; Abuloma and Odili Road at two different times; first between 12am – 6am and 6am – 8am. It was observed as compared to the WHO standard of 25microgram per cubic metre, that the value were as high as 270microgram per cubic metre. The values dropped to 62microgram per cubic metre for Odili Road and 124microgram per cubic metre for Abuloma. This indicates that most of the activities are done mostly at night.
She also stated the flaring activities which the FG claimed would be phased out by 2008, still lingers even in the present year.All these combined with residential activities such as burning of tyres and coal have all contributed to the soot emissions.
The rally came to a close as wee were assured that the JTF would not rest on it’s efforts until the environment becomes safe for habitation. We were also informed that there would be a progress report every 3 days on the efforts and operations of the JTF.
In all, it was a successful rally and we hope the government will swiftly conduct necessary investigations so as to ensure a cleaner environment for the residents of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.