we’ve come up with a noise pollution control law and emission control law. These control laws are being enforced presently. William Shakespeare, world’s popular playwright captured ‘pollution’ in his book: Love’s Labour’s Lost. In Act IV, Scene 2.46, the playwright referred to pollution (spelt ‘pollusion’ in his days) as a ‘blunder’ and descended heavily on a major character in the play, Goodman Dull for such blunder although Dull had meant ‘allusion’. The message here is: pollution is perceived long before this present age as a ‘blunder’ and it has remained so till now. As if taking a cue from Shakespeare, the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi administration in Rivers State resolved from inception – two years ago – to treat pollution as such, to call it by its name: blunder! And to take steps in ensuring that nobody identifies with it in the state. Pollution could be said to be in facets; thus there exists environmental and noise pollution, among others. Much has been said and written on the former but not on the latter. While tackling environmental pollution occasioned by many years of oil exploration and exploitation in Rivers State, the state government has also taken steps at stemming the tide of noise pollution in the state, which in any case is not peculiar to the state but is a common phenomenon in Africa. State Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Kingsley Chindah said this much when The Tide On Sunday accosted him in Abuja on how well the ministry had fared in the last two years of Amaechi’s governance. His response on pollution was apt and candid: “we’ve come up with a noise pollution control law and emission control law. These control laws are being enforced presently. I can tell you as we speak that there is a remarkable reduction in the noise pollution in the state.” To curb oil pollution, which is the major source of environmental hazard in the state, Chindah said, “We’ve also proposed an environmental bill – ‘Rivers State Environmental Law – (that has gone a step further than federal laws) which will ensure that the polluter clears pollution within a space of one month (or risk not just financial penalty but imprisonment)”. This, he said, is in addition to the ‘Quick Response’ process, which the ministry has commenced, to calls from polluted areas, although maximum cooperation has not been received from the facility owners, who are quick to hinge their complain on security reasons. Part of the problems the government met on ground, as far as the environment is concerned was indiscriminate disposal of wastes which the government has taken steps to address. “We started a new programme to revamp the Ministry of Establishment and tackle perennial problems that face us in the state like Solid Waste Management and pollution in all facets,” he said. Chindah, a lawyer, was quick to adduce reason why the government effort in solid waste management appeared not to have been noticed by the larger society, saying that it is due to the fact that “we started from the bottom to ensure that our foundation – foundation of the structure is solid.” The ministry, he said, started with End-Point for Solid Management; that is a Waste Re-cycling Plant – a waste-to-wealth project, explaining that the problem they met on ground is a situation where waste is hauled; and government consistently shoulder sanitation as a social responsibility. He told The Tide On Sunday, “After a thorough study of our situation and interaction with stakeholders, we discovered that the best method of waste disposal is the Integrated Waste Management Scheme which is a cluster system; and door-to-door waste management, adding that government should also privatised the sector. Chinda alluded to the Rivers State Waste Management Agency Law (RIVSMA) as the new law the government put in place in its effort to ensure a resounding success in the sector and record a clean break with the past. He recalled that the waste management scheme put in place by the defunct administration of the then police commissioner, Fidelis Oyakhilome in the state failed because there was no facility on ground to sustain it so there was needs for Amaechi’s administration to complete the waste-to-wealth site it has established. He continued: “We also need engineered land field. The scrap to wealth project is also on course. It is for metal waste or metal products. The waste to wealth plant is a process wherein waste are converted to manouvre for use at oil-polluted sites.” According to the Rivers State environmental commissioner, the government is also planning the plastic re-cycling plant which is another end-point for plastic waste – that is, on solid waste management. The Tide On Sunday asked Hon. Chindah what he regards as the government’s ‘greatest achievements under the Environment Ministry in the last two years, to which he said is manpower development and human resources. His words: “We’ve developed manpower and changed our attitude towards work in the ministry. There is also the RIVGREEN corporate forum: Town Hall meetings were held in rural areas. The waste-to-wealth and scrap-to-wealth is about 75 per cent completed. Solid structures and institutions that will run (themselves) are already on ground – concerning sanitation in the state”. He is elated that internally, among the staff of the Ministry of Environment, there is a new spirit in place, following the emphasis they placed on manpower development that made them to give staff an opportunity to practice their profession in line with contemporary trend in the world. He told The Tide On Sunday, “We found out that there were very good brains (in the ministry), very intelligent but very rustic. They’ve left them to rot away, for example, you find a director who doesn’t know how to operate computer. We had to open up doors for training and re-training of staff computer literacy.” Chindah said so far, sixty staff have been trained while twenty others were currently undergoing the training, after which others would also be trained in batch of twenty – in his effort to re-orientate the staff in line with the Amaechi vision for the state. He was optimistic that the ministry leaves an indelible footprint on the sands of time, which life itself cannot efface at the end of Governor Amaechi’s stewardship in the state.
Justus Awaji, Abuja