The Rivers State Government, yesterday, ordered the
temporary suspension of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s operations at its
headquarters at Rumueme, Port Harcourt.
The suspension which lasted for more than two hours,
followed the refusal by the management of the company to allow the Commissioner
for Environment, Dr Nyema Weli and his entourage access to one of its barges
conveying 200 litres of diesel which sank at the base, spilling the content
into the river.
During the period of the suspension, all activities in the
company were shut down while visitors were barred from either entering or
leaving the premises.
Addressing newsmen later, the Commissioner, Dr Nyema Weli
said that the situation was to show the company that there was government
exists in the state.
“We are not going to tolerate the situation where we want to
do our job and they will come and stop us”.
“Our job is not to stop Agip from doing business in Rivers
State, our job is when something like this happens, we see what we can do to
make sure our people are safe and happy”, he said.
Dr Weli, however, stressed the need for the company to adopt international
standard on the clean-up of the spill, pointing out that the ministry would
continuously monitor the clean-up process.
He commended members of Mgbuosimini community for their
peaceful approach to the issue, noting that his office was always open for
dialogue on the issue.
On the issue of compensation, Dr Weli said that the extent of damage would be determined after
the clean-up, and urged the people to always keep the government informed of
Some of the youth leaders of Mgbuosimini community told
newsmen that the spillage destroyed
aquatic lives in the area, and urged for remedial measure to contain it.
They alleged that the situation also affected Eagle Island
Meanwhile, plans are underway by the Rivers State Government
to review the waste management laws in the state.
The plans were made public by the Commissioner for Budget
and Economic Planning, Mr Levi Gogo-Charles while briefing reporters on the
outcome of the 19th State Executive
Council Meeting yesterday in Port Harcourt.
He said, the new law was aimed at improving the waste
management and possibly privatise the sector for more efficiency.
Mr Gogo- Charles said,” we will have a better way of
collecting, disposing and treating refuse in a manner that would be hygienic
and productive to the people of the state’’.
The new bill would be sent to the State House of Assembly
for deliberations, Gogo-Charles further disclosed, noting that,, “ we want to
get back our Garden City status to the point that we used to know before. And
we think that an effective law would help the state in achieving that.’’
He also hinted that the State Executive Council approved the
commencement of academic programmes in three of the new model secondary schools
of the state by October this year.
The schools include the ones at Eleme, Tai and Etche as the
Ministry of Education had been mandated to conduct entrance exams for
prospective students, while emphasising that minimum intake was hinged on 700
students per school.