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How Rainstorm Wreaked Havoc In Port Harcourt

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Some residents and
corporate bodies in Port Harcourt City and environs are still counting their losses occasioned by devastation caused by severe rainstorm two weeks ago.
As at the time of filing this report, over fifty houses, billboards, vehicles and a number of poles belonging to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) were severely damaged by the storm.
Some of the corporate citizens who were counting their losses include, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola, City Crown Hotel, Iwofe road, Port Harcourt and a number of others whose billboards were affected in one way or the other in the incident.
Some residential buildings were deroofed particularly those at Rumuola, Iwofe, Igbo Etche, Rumuokoro, Rumuokwuta, Emohua and other areas.
A number of trees were also felled by the storm, while at Rumuola junction, a giant billboard allegedly owned by one of the corporate bodies in Port Harcourt was uprooted and placed on top of a storey building. Similarly, a number of electricity poles belonging to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) were damaged in several locations across Port Harcourt City and its environs.
Six electricity poles were damaged at Igbo Etche throwing the area into darkness, some were damaged at GRA phases I and II, Borikiri as well as Rumuok-wurusi axis of Port Harcourt.
The PHEDC has put the number of poles damaged so far to over 300, while a number of transformers also suffered similar fate. In a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt, the Manager, Corporate Communication, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), Mr. John Onyi, said that two 33kvs and five 11kvs feeders, especially those in the Rivers State University, (RSU) Rumuomoi, Federal Housing Estate, Wokoma Street, Bori Camp and Rumuola were all affected.
Onyi regretted the incident stressing that the firm sympathised with consumers over the incident. The Rector, Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola, Dr Samuel Kalagbor told newsmen that the incident affected over seven buildings in the institution.
Kalagbor said that the destruction occurred when students were in the class writing their semester examination, stressing that the school had to call of the examination as most of the classrooms were affected.
The Rector called for urgent intervention from the government as the level of destruction is beyond what the school can handle alone.
The Commssioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu who visited the institution to inspect the level of damage, regretted the incident, stressing that the state government is happy that no life was lost.
Onowu, however cautioned residents against trying to remove property under heavy windstorm.
Though the manage of City Crown Hotel, Iwofe road, could not be reached for comment, a senior staff who spoke under condition of anonymity, said that the management is battling to restore the hospitality outfit back to its normal condition.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the level of damage caused by the storm.
A landlord, Chief Andy Eze, told The Tide in an interview that those affected by the incident need the support of both the state and federal governments.
He said in other parts of the country, people who suffered this type of problems were usually provided with relief materials.
Also speaking, a Professor of Sociology, University of Port Harcourt, Professor Mark Anikpo, said the persistency of such incidence may lead to more sufferings for the human population.
According to him, the situation could lead to food crisis as more farmlands will be washed off, while severe flooding will be experienced.
He stressed the need to step up campaigns against the erection of structures on water right of ways. Prof. Anikpo also warned against unnecessary movement during rainstorm occasioned by lightening as that can lead to loss of lives.
He also advised against living nearer to big trees and electricity poles.
Similarly, a lecturer at the Institute of Geosciences, Rivers State University, Dr. Precious Ede advised people to always plant trees with long tap roots to avoid them falling on houses during windstorm.
The university Don, who spoke in Port Harcourt also stressed the need for people to be vigilant as more of the incidents may be experienced this year in the state.
Also speaking, the Programme Director, Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Mr. Steve Obodoekwe, regretted that the incident occurred when there is extreme hardship in the country.
“The recent windstorm caused a lot of havoc in some parts of Port Harcourt.
“At this period of extreme hardship, peoples’ houses were deroofed, government and public spirited individuals and corporate bodies should consider it as a serious disaster and come to the aid of those affected.
Obodoekwe also stressed the need for the relevant authorities to visit the affected areas to assess the extent of damages with a view to working out emergency assistance in form of relief materials. For Mrs Binbeke Deele, a business woman, the incident is regrettable.
“I felt so bad when this incident happened. Some of these people cannot afford to buy the materials for the buildings of their houses.
“Government should help those who lost their property. Those who are rich should also help those poor people.
On his part, the chairman, Health, Safety and Environment Committee, Chinwo Town, Port Harcourt, Prince William Chinwo stressed the need for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the aid of the people.

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Environment

Don Traces Environmental Challenges To Poverty, Ignorance

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Dean Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Calabar, Prof. Imo Ekpoh on Wednesday disclosed that Nigeria cannot solve its environmental challenges without solving the challenges of poverty and ignorance.
Ekpoh said this in an interview with The Tide source in Calabar.
The Prof. of climatology noted that as a nation we needed to carryout measures that would ensure that rural dwellers lived sustainably with the forests and not destroy them.
“Telling people who have been logging or burning bushes as a profession they learnt from their fathers to stop logging and burning bushes at the beginning of the farming season because you want to check greenhouse gases emission won’t work.
“This is because they will not understand, unless they are educated and given an alternative means of livelihood.
“Today, many of our rural communities take bush burning as a way of life and when village A, B, and C continue to burn  the forests, it becomes a major challenge contributing to global warming, he maintained.
Ekpoh stated that the major factor that was enhancing global warming was the amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon-(iv)-oxide, methane, nitrous-oxide and chlorofluorocarbons released daily into the atmosphere.
He said that preindustrial level of atmospheric carbon-(iv)-oxide  was in the region of 280 parts per million but at present, it was over 400 parts per million.
He added that if not for the efforts of some communities like Cross River in planting trees, it would have risen to 500 parts per million.
“Planting of trees is important because it helps in the absorption of carbon-(iv)oxide which escapes into the atmosphere from different sources and enhancing global warming.
“Global warming brings with it surprises because earth’s atmosphere becomes unstable, making it difficult for scientists to predict.
“This is why you see massive flooding in China, storms in America and bush fires at the same time, some other countries are witnessing draught and even Nigeria is not left out with the effects of desert encroachment and other disasters.
“As a nation we need to start enforcing the use of catalytic converters in our vehicles and factories and also provide an alternative and safe means of survival for our people, if we must save our environment,” he asserted.

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Environment

Traders Blame Flooding In Mile One Market On Lack Of Drainage Facilities

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Traders at the popular Mile one Market in the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State have blamed the incessant in the market to lack of drainage facilities.
A cross section of traders who spoke to The Tide in an interview said the market need good drainages to enable easy flow of water whenever it rains.
They also call on the government to put in place polices that will check indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the market.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Adekunle Alabi, a meatseller said the market needs good drainage system to ensure the flow of water dring rainfalls.
“According to him, whenever it rains, flood passes through the railway, if there is good drainage, the water would just flow out”.
Also speaking, a woman who gave her name as a fisherman’s wife called on the government to ensure that the market is regularly adding that most traders have developed the habit of dumping refuse in gutters in the maket.
According to her, this refuse always block the water from flowing out during rainfall.
She said, the situation is affecting traders adversely.
“Some people carry dirty and dump inside the gutter, so the water does not see road to pass, and it cause flood everywhere.
“That is why we are suffering in this market” she said.
Also speaking, another trader, Mrs Betty Silas said the gutter needs to be cleaned up regularly to ensure that there is easy flow of water.
The most important thing, the gutters are not deep enough, so when it rains it causes flood in the market” she said.
For Mr Ezekiel Solomon, the cause of the flooding in the market is due to lack of sanitation, stressing that a Thursday weekly sanitation exercise should be enforced, to ensure that no debris blocking the gutter.
Also speaking, Mrs Abigail Chukwudi call on the government to enforce regular sanitation exercise to compel some traders to always clean their stalls.
Another trader, Mr Oliver the also call for the regular visit of sanitation officials in the market to ensure compliance in the weekly sanitation exercise.

By: Elendu-Obochi Esther Inmgba Favour Victor & Oribim Nyanaa Ibama

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Environment

Gas Leakage Destroys Properties At College

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Authorities of the Federal College of Education (Technical Omoku say a gas leakage which occurred at the permanent site of the college has destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
According to a press release emailed to the reporter, the incident brings to three, the number of gas leakage witnessed so far within the last four years in the college.
The release signed by the institution’s Public Relations Officer, Prince Charles Amadike, said the leakage which occurred last Friday emanated from a high pressure gas pipeline 95 bar allegedly belonging to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas which runs through the college’s permanent site.
It said though no life was lost, the ugly incident apart from posing health and environmental hazard has destroyed many properties including farms, fish ponds, students’ demonstration farms as well as degradation of the college’s environment therefore may cause the College to shut down as staff and students have deserted the campus for fear of explosion.
The release also said that the permanent site of the college houses the instiution’s Directorate of Degree Programme in affiliation with University of Nigeria Nsukka and University of Uyo, students hostels, many schools of study, laboratories, water factory, directorates, departments, units, staff offices, games village as well as fish ponds, etc. with thousands of staff, students and traders residing within the area.
Meanwhile, some students who spoke at the scene of the incident threatened to stage a peaceful demonstration if the companies that laid pipelines through the college did not find lasting solutions to the reoccurring oil and gas spillage in the college. According to them, the school was not safe for learning as a result of such ugly incidents.
Also speaking at the scene of the incident, the Provost of the college, Dr Emmanuel Ikenyiri, accompanied by some members of the Management of the college appealed to the affected company to come and stop the gas leakage which is still on as at the time of filing this report. He also appealed to government at all levels, multinational companies, corporate bodies as well as philanthropic organizations and individuals to come to the aid of the college which is the only gederal tertiary institution in Orashi region of Rivers State outside Port Harcourt, as frequent oil or gas spillage in an academic institution is a risk on human lives, lamenting that apart from the destruction of college’s valuables and other aquatic lives, staff, students and visitors to the school could not breath well because the gas has saturated the area.
While thanking God that no life was lost as a result of the incident, he also commended the staff, students and farmers for their peaceful approach and urged them to remain calm as the management had concluded plans to contact the affected company.

By: John Bibor

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