PH Residents Jittery Over Re-Emergence Of Black Soot

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Flood at Adekunle Fajuyi Street, GRA, Ikeja in Lagos, after a heavy rain, recently.

The reemergence of the black-soot in Port Harcourt and its environs has again taken the front burner in the state.
These complaints are coming especially after months of respite.
The Tide learnt that some of the areas currently experiencing the problem include, Ada-George, Abuloma, Borikiri, Trans/Amadi Bunde Ama, Abonnema Wharf, Rumuokwurusi amongst others.
It would be recalled at the appearance of the soot two years ago, concerns were raised over the possible health implication of its pollution effects on the populace.
This situation led the government to immediately take urgent action to check the impending disaster.
It would be noted that the present administration under the able leadership of Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike had inaugurated a committee to proffer solution to the problem.
The government had also embarked on series of campaign to check the proliferation of illegal refining and the burning of tyres and confiscated crude from illegal refiners.
Further more environmental campaigners under the aegis of “stop the soot the campaign” had embarked on series of rallies across the city to demand for both State and Federal actions on the menace.
The protesters particularly called for an end to illegal oil refineries while the security agencies should caution its men from the burning of illegal crude oil laden vessels.
A cross section of respondents in the state believed that the action by the Government and the civil right activist were responsible for the partial disappearance of the soot.
But environmentalists and some other stakeholders have argued that there was noting like partial disappearance of the soot.They blamed the non appearance of the soot on weather condition.
Leading the pack of the experts is the former President of the Nigerian Environmental Society, Mr Olu Ander Wai-Ogosu.
Mr Wai Ogosu said it was wrong for people to believe that there was no soot in the atmosphere for sometime now, adding that the effect of the soot was reduced as a result of the incessant rainfall.
“An uninformed person will believe that there was no soot for sometime now because it was not visible to the eyes.
“This particulate substance had always been in the atmosphere but was being washed away by the rains”.
The former NES President further said that there is no way, the soot can go away as long as people continue with their old behaviour.
According to him, with the proliferation of illegal refineries, in the creeks, burning of tyres to entrant copper wire, using of firewood for cooking and the continuous destruction of barges and other vessels used for illegal oil bunkering the soot will continue to remain with us.
The environmentalist stressed the need for aggressive altitudinal change campaign by the relevant authorities, stressing that apart from the proliferation of artisanal refineries, the continuous use of firewood for cooking by communities is aiding and abetting global warming.
“Some unwholesome activities such as, burning of material wastes in the open air, illegal oil bunkering or artisanal refineries and use of tyres to burn animals, all these things are contributing to climate change.
Ogosu stressed the need for the problem to be tackled from its source. “It can be tackled from the source people should be stopped from burning tyres.
“Government should put effective measures to ensure that bunkered products are not destroyed but sent to the refinery”.
He also said that effort should be made to control the manner in which Obsolete trucks bellow black smoke into the atmosphere from their exhaust pipes.
“The shortest measure is to drastically change the attitude of people to burning wastes in dumpsites.
“There should be aggressive education to stop people from burning waste”.
Government should make gas available for cooking.
Also speaking the programme officer of the Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Mr. Steve Obodoekwe, described the reappearance of the soot as a sad development.
“It is too bad and saddening that Port Harcourt residents are still living with the soot menace.
“It is too bad that inspite of public outcries, no serious action has been embarked upon to end the soot by the federal government.
Mr. Obadoekwe also stressed the need for the government to carry out research to ascertain the actual causes of the problem adding that “while the study is awaited, gas flaring should be stopped”
Also the chairman, Health Safety and Environment Coommittee, Chinwo Town Port Harcourt, Prince William Chinwo, stressed the need for government to take concise and decisive action on the issue without compromise.
“The matter requires critical action by the State and Federal Governments he said.
It would be noted that the Rivers State government is leaving no stone unturned to solve the problem this time around.
If the statement by the State Commissioner for Health, Professor Princewill Chike at an event in Port Harcourt is anything to go by, the end of the soot is in sight.