Illegal dredging and
sand excavation is fast becoming a major source of employment for thousands of youths across the Niger Delta and the rest of the country.
For instance, in Rivers State Investigation revealed that these illegal activities are going on in places such as Etche, Oyigbo, Abuloma in Port Harcourt city Local Government Council and across the riverine local government areas of the state.
The Tide could not stumble on regulations guiding the activities of those engage in this act.
It is also interesting to note that apart from the fact that this situation is being carried out by across section of youths with little or no knowledge of its impacts on the environment, some how multinational corporations are engaged in it.
At the Otamiri river in Etche Local Government Area The Tide spotted large dredgers probably owned by some politicians.
Also in places like Abuloma, some youths and corporations are competing over ownership of dredging sites.
But the question being asked across the state is whether, there are some forms of approvals or regulations concerning these dredging activities.
When The Tide sought the views of the immediate past Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Nyema Weli, on the issue, he declined comment and directed the reporter to see the permanent secretary of the ministry who was also not available as at the time of filing this report.
The Tide later learnt from the officer incharge of the department of marine pollution in the ministry that the issue of regulation has been contracted out to consultant.
But The Tide could not trace the identity and whereabouts of this consultant.
However, stakeholders are expressing deep concern over the activities of illegal dredging activities in the state.
Some of those who responded to text messages on the issue, decried the activities of illegal dredging, contending that dredging in whatever form ought to be preceded with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Programme
They noted that, the absence of EIAs on the situation across the state have made the occupation to pose greater dangers to impacted communities.
The stakeholders also regretted the lack of concern on the situation by the authorities, adding that “in situation like this, there will be absence of standard and uniformity” as far as the occupation is concerned.
According to them, impacted communities, must rise up and demand for standard to save their areas from environmental degradation.
The state Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Mr. Oliver Wollugbom was the first to respond to the text message on the issue.
In his response, Mr. Wollugbom said that therewas need for the authority to ensure that all dredging activities conform to acceptable standard, inline with international best practices.
The Director also regretted the lukewarm attitude being paid to the issue by those incharged.
“Government should ensure that all dredging activities conform to the standard practice, while following all the laws.
“It is unfortunate that, those entrusted with the responsibility to report and enforce our laws don’t carry out their jobs.
“We must ensure that, our environment is not damaged or polluted” he said.
Professor Mark Anikpo, an erudite scholar and a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, particularly decried the absence of Environmental Impact Assessments on dredging in Rivers State and parts of the Niger Delta, adding that this was responsible for the lack of information on environmental and human tragedies of dredging across the region.
Professor Anikpo said that the new Administrations of president Muhammudu Buhari and the governors of the various Niger Delta states must as a matter of urgency set out modalities for dredging and sand excavation in the region.
“It should conduct a pre-impact assesment of dredges that will provide information on the enormous human tragedy involved in such dredging activities” Prof Anikpo said.
On his part, the state coordinator of Rivers Sanitation Marhalls, Prince Sodin Akiagba, said that various communities in the state are being exposed to erosion and pollution as a result of illegal dredging activities.
He also condemned the activities of timber dealers, adding that the continous destruction of Rivers Rain Forests by timber dealers is exposing the environment to danger.
Prince Akiaba also stressed the need for the authorities to not only make the laws on this situation, but enforce their compliance .
“We need a government with strong political will to save our environment from destruction, we need an Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) before people go into dredging activities.
“Our government must be ready to prohibit illegal dredging, no matter who is involved” he said.
On his part, the Public Relations Officer of the Movement for the survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) Mr. Buriara Kpalap, said that the government should first and for most guide the coastline very well to check the activities of illegal dredgers.
Mr. Kpalap said that this is necessary as the communities are disempowered to do it, adding that, whoever that is caught in this nefarious act must be made to face the wrath of the law to serve as deterrent to others.
Other stakeholders who also reacted to the messages expressed the same sentiments.
However, as the new administration comes on board, the challenges are indeed enormous and there must be clearly defined policies to tackle these problems. The people are unanimous on this.
NOSDRA Records 229 Pipeline Vandalisation Cases In N’Delta
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), says it recorded over 229 cases of pipeline vandalisation between 2018 and 2019 in the South-South zone.
South-South Zonal Coordinator of the agency, Mr Cyrus Nkangwung who said this in a telephone interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt said the level of pipeline vandalisation has continued to increase in the region.
Nkangwung said the situation has also worsened the already polluted environment of the Niger Delta region.
“Between 2018 and 2019, we recorded about 229 cases of pipeline sabotage and it has continued to increase,” he said.
He said NOSDRA will sustain its sensitisation programme on the dangers of pipeline vandalisaiton.
“We need to enlighten communities in the region on the dangers of pipeline sabotage. The activities of vandals are destroying the environment” he said.
Meanwhile, an environmentalist, Prince William Chinwo says time has come for youths of the Niger Delta to be cautioned against involvement in activities that will destroy the environment.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt said the activities of pipeline vandals were causing untold hardship to the people of the Niger Delta.
According to him, the Niger Delta environment has been destroyed, while in some cases fires from vandalised pipelines have led to series of deaths in the region.
Chinwo also agreed with the NOSDRA Director that there is need for communities in the region to be properly sensitised with a view to calling their youths to order.
He also stressed the need for governments at all levels in the country to initiate programmes that will lead to massive employment opportunities for youths in the region.
John Bibor & Amina Ngoma
Traders Laud RSG Over Weekly Sanitation Exercise
The Rivers State Government has been commended for instituting the Thursday weekly environmental sanitation exercise in markets across the state.
A cross section of traders who spoke with our correspondent during the exercise in Port Harcourt said the situation has improved the aesthetic condition of markets in the state.
They stressed the need for the government to impose sanction on any trader who refused to clean his shop during the exercise.
Speaking, Mrs Patience Ochuze said the weekly cleanup exercise has instilled the culture of cleanliness among traders. She stressed the need for the exercise to be extended to the rural areas.
Also speaking, Mr John Amadi said it is important to cleanup markets, in order to attract customers.
“The market is where we do business, so it is important that we keep it clean he said.
Amadi also stressed the need for market leaderships across the state to impose fines on any trader who absent himself during the period of the exercise.
On her part, Mrs Chinyere Chukwudi said the exercise was the best thing that Rivers State Government has done to traders.
EU/NDSP Water Projects: Community Laments Lack Of Distribution Facilities
The Public Relations Officer of the Nkoro Council of Chiefs in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State, Alabo Rogers Ibibo Oroni III, says many households in the community are not feeling the impact of the European Union (EU) Water Projects in the community.
Alabo Oroni who said this in a telephone interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, however blamed the situation on inadequate water distribution facilities in the area.
He said this government was not to be blamed for the situation as members of the community were required to contribute some monies for the extension of the water facilities round the community and its environs.
The Council of Chiefs PRO said despite the situation, the community is grateful to the European Union (EU) for considering Nkoro community worthy for the siting of water projects.
Meanwhile, Alabo Rogers Ibibo Oroni has commended the State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) project, for the siting of a micro water project and civic centre in the community.
According to him, by the siting of the projects, the community is now recognised not only by the Rivers State Government but also by the European Union and the World Bank.
He said the community will ensure that both the civic centre and the water projects are properly maintained.
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