The spread of the corona virus pandemic to Rivers State early this year can be said to have dealt a serious blow to institutions especially the school system in the state.
Environmentally, some pupils and staff of some primary schools in the state may not be in a hurry to forget both the environmental and other challenges that impacted on them as a result of the closure of schools, due to the pandemic.
Sources had it that in some schools, premises were overgrown with weeds, some premises were converted to public toilets by some natives, while some were completely taken over by reptiles and other dangerous animals.
State school Chokola Igbo Etche in Etche Local Government Area was not left out of the harrowing experiences.
Head teacher of the school, Mrs Ukoha Sandra, in an exclusive interview said, the school pitch was converted to a public toilet by some of the natives.
She said the situation had continued, despite the fact that the school was in session.
“They come here in the night and defecate all over the place and we have constantly reported the matter to the community, and no serious attention is being paid to it.”
Sandra said the school needs fencing to keep off those who strayed into the area at night to defecate in its premises. She also said State School Chokota had no sanitation facilities such as water and toilet, adding that what the school had was only pit latrine which is unhygienic.
According to her, the pit latrine is being cleaned regularly with hypo bleach and klin detergent.
“We don’t have water sometimes, I give money from my pocket to buy water”, she said.
She stressed the need for the government and public spirited individuals to come to the aid of the school by providing water and sanitation facilities.
Sandra said the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a terrible blow to the school as the population of the school has been reduced.
According to her, the school which has a population of 600 pupils now has less than 400 as some parents say they will wait till January 2021 before bringing their children to school.
Sandra said however the school was complying fully with COVID-19 protocols as no pupil was allowed to enter class rooms without putting on face mask and washing hands with soap and water.
She also said pupils and staff were happy to be back to class.
Also speaking, a basic five teacher, Mr Nwangha Godspower Anugo, said the school needed fencing to keep off intruders.
Anugbo said the school had no toilet and water, facilities.
“We need water seriously, the place also needs fencing”. On the conversion of the school premises to a public toilet, he said the matter had been reported to the Chokota Community Development Committee (CDC) and the youth body but noting was being done about it.
Also, Mrs Eucheria Etukudoh, a basic III teacher said, pupils used hand sanitisers in the school while in her class, there was spacing of pupils.
Some pupils who spoke were The Tide said they were happy to be back, but government should do something about the problem of water and sanitation.
Some of the pupils which include, Blessing Mfon Archibong of basic I, Favour Joseph Uwem of Basic II and others said they were happy to be back to school.
Also, for Centop International School, Umuchoko, the management has provided water and sanitation facilities in the school. The proprietor of the school, Mr Onwu Innocent Bamidele, however said the school was yet to recover from the shock of the lockdown but stressed that hand washing was strictly observed in the school.
According to him, the school has eight handwashing points, four within and four outside, while children are subjected to regular temperature check before entry into the premises.
Bamidele said the school had excellent water and sanitation facilities.
Also speaking, a parent, Burn Ray Unyene, said the pandemic dealt terrible lows to families.
“It is not easy to keep a child in the house”, adding that parents are happy that schools have resumed.
He also said parents were happy that school environment was neat and tidy.
Some of the school children, who spoke said they were happy to be back to school.
Don Traces Environmental Challenges To Poverty, Ignorance
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.
Traders Blame Flooding In Mile One Market On Lack Of Drainage Facilities
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
Gas Leakage Destroys Properties At College
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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