RSG Plans Heavy Fines For Illegal Dredging

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The Rivers State Ministry of Environment has concluded plans to review some environmental laws to check indiscriminate dredging activities and other environmental degradation in the state.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. George Chimezie Nweke disclosed this last Wednesday, in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt.

The Permanent Secretary said, the Ministry’s decision was based on the reports from the dredging and monitoring unit of the Ministry over the indiscriminate and illegal dredging and dumping of wastes in the state capital and its environs without appropriate fine options as punishment to any defaulters in the state.

“The Ministry decided to review the environmental laws because, many of these environmental defaulters proved stubborn, even after they are arrested and prosecuted, they believe the fine for their illegal activities cannot be equated with the benefits, they enjoy.

“We want to review the law to discourage every illegal activities on degradation of the environment in the state”.

Dr. Nweke explained on the guidelines for the registration of dredgers in the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary said, the dredging firms like Hopper and Gutter Suction dredgers (24-30) are to register with N10 million each, while other dredgers are to registered with between N1 million and N3 million depending on their size.

“Dredging firm which want to be registered must meet up requirement such as Police criminal clearance certificate, current tax clearance certificate among others before the consent fee.

He called on individual and communities in the state to stop aiding and abating illegal dredging activities in their areas.

Dr. Nweke noted that some community leaders and connive with some dredging companies to engage in the illegal activities, after collecting money without minding the effect of such dredging activities.

He also particularly warned against dredging activities in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Oyigbo, Tai, Eleme and Okrika areas noting that the law prohibited such activities except there are Special Waiver from the State governor or delegated authority.

Meanwhile, the Senior Consultant, Dredging and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Environment, Mr. Somiyewo Okikiola has reiterated the unit commitment to reduced to the minimum all illegal dredging and indiscriminate dumping of wastes in the state soonest.

 

Enoch Epelle