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Concerns As Lagos Council Enforces Open Burning Of Refuse

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Residents of Ikotun-Igando Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) have raised an alarm over constant harassment by council officials on alleged open burning of refuse.
Their worry is that the right to enforce environmental laws rests on the state’s Ministry of Environment and agencies, not councils, which use such incidents to extort money from them.
Some officials of the council were recently seen enforcing law against open burning of refuse through issuance of notices to residents in the Isheri area and asking defaulters to pay certain fines, ranging from N40, 000 to N65, 000.
In the notice sighted by The Guardian, it emphasised the effect and impact of open burning on the environment and health hazards it poses. Speaking on the development, one of the Environmental Officers in the council, who pleaded anonymity, reiterated the council’s support for clean air in communities, adding that the state government also maintains a zero-tolerance to refuse burning, which has been declared as unlawful.
The official said: “According to Section 14 (A and B) of the Lagos State’s environmental sanitation law, no person shall burn or cause to be burnt, waste of any description on a tenement, or dump waste at any place other than a waste disposal site. Any violation of this law is liable to terms of imprisonment or fine or both, violators caught in the act will face severe penalties, including N50, 000 fine.
“We are operating with the legal department under the environmental department in the council. Furthermore, the department issues notices and prosecutes violators. This prohibition on refuse burning is not a recent development. The state government officially enacted this law back in 2010, making the announcement widely known through various media channels.”
However, another source at the council told The Guardian that the so-called officers from the council enforcing the environmental law are carrying out illegal duties. The source alleged that some of the officers were sent out by politicians to extort money from unsuspecting residents under the guise of enforcing law against open burning of refuse.
But reacting, Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Mrs. Bola Ajao, emphasised that any issue pertaining to the environment, including enforcement and burning of refuse falls under its agency.She stated that local councils do not have the authority to enforce environmental laws or address environmental offences.

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Environment

Conference Calls For Water Supply Master Plans For States In Nigeria

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Water Engineers in Nigeria have called for a water resource/water supply master plan for each of the 36 states of the country with a well defined action plan for implementation.
This was contained in a communique at the end of the 6th International Water Conference at Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The conference was organised by the Nigerian Institution of Water Engineers (NIWE), a branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
The communique also said there is an urgent need to enhance political will for adequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in the country.
According to the communique, “the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation should organised a national forum chaired by the president or vice president to discuss WASH.and modalities for meeting the SDG 6″
It called for full autonomy to be granted to water supply agencies across the country by state governments in order to attract investors into the sector
“This will require adequate legislation that will remove unnecessary interference in its operation and management.
“There is need to develop a water resource/ water supply master plan for each of the 36 States of the federation with a well defined action plan for implementation. This will be the responsibility of the sub nationals and may be supported by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation ”.
The communique signed by Dr Adeyinka Sobowale and Engr. Temitope Esther Aboyeji, a copy emailed to The Tide Environment Desk in Port Harcourt further stressed the need for states in the country to establish water regulatory agencies to adequately regulate the activities of water providers in their respective states.
“Furthermore, ground water regulatory frameworks for the entire country should be developed, ”it said.
The conference also urged the government to mandate and finance research centres , Universities, and Polytechnics and the private sector to begin development and manufacture of equipment and machines for the water sector locally to reduce the heavy dependence on importation
“There is  a need to adopt new and efficient technology control systems and innovations for revamping safely managed water supply systems.
“Professional Engineers are specially trained to design, construct, and manage all water infrastructures and systems, they should be given the pride of place to provide leadership in all water utilities across the country to promote effective service delivery,”it said.
The communique said the conference deliberated on various issues among which are: Water Sanitation and Hygiene( WASH) governance comprising the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems which includes policy, law and institutions that are in place to develop and manage water resources and the delivery of water services to different segments of the society.
Also deliberated upon are: challenges facing WASH in Nigeria including lack of or inadequate political will,weak policy and legal instruments, inappropriate institutional arrangements, lack of autonomy for water agencies, weak financial frame-work , inadequate and ageing infrastructures and lack of adequate manpower as well as fragmentation of approach to addressing water resources management in Nigeria.
Also considered are: lack of access to funding,. autonomy and accountability as key factors that must be ensured in the instruments guiding the sector, while  suggesting that unbundling water supply functions into different agencies should be pursued to promote efficiency and accountability.
According to the conference, “sustainable WASH services in terms of financial viability, reliable service and acceptable standards cannot be achieved without good and appropriate governance”
Speaking with The Tide in in Port Harcourt, General Manager of the Rivers State Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Mr Napoleon Adah, said the outcome of the conference will repositioned the water sector for greater productivity if implemented.
He said the conference has carefully examined all problems militating against adequate water supply in the country and as well proffer solutions to them.

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Stakeholders Call For Shore Protection For Bille Community

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Some stakeholders in Bille kingdom, Degema Local Government Area  are calling for shore protection to protect the community against the ravaging tidal erosion.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to The Tide in Port Harcourt said the community is suffering from the effects of tidal erosion.
They said this situation is also hindering the development of the kingdom.
An Environmentalist, Miss Blessing Digbani said tidal erosion is threatening to wash off the community.
She said this situation is affecting property developers in the community.
According to her, shore protection will provide a lasting solution to the problem of tidal erosion in the community
Also speaking, another stakeholder,Watson Sanipe also decried the incessant flooding of the community.
He said the community has done its best, adding that Government should come to the aide of the community.
“We want the government to come and do shore protection here. The cost of shore protection is beyond the community.
He regretted that inspite of the contributions of the community to the revenue of the state and country, the community has nothing to show for it.
Sanipe also lamented that Bille has suffered from series of cholera outbreaks due to lack of potable drinking water in the community.
He called on the government to come to the aide of the community by not only constructing shore protection but provide adequate water for the people.

By: John Bibor

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Environment

Rising Water Level Threatens 34 Ahoada West Communities

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34 out of 67 communities in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State are being threatened by flood following the rising level of water in the Orashi River.
A source within the affected communities said the situation has thrown the people into panic with farmers embarking on premature harvesting of crops.
According to the source, most farmlands in the area are also flooded.
Confirming the incident in a radio interview in Port Harcourt, a member of Ahoada West Flood Management Committee, Mr Meshach Uyi said farmers in the affected communities have been asked to harvest their crops to avoid being destroyed by the flood.
According to him, 34 out of 67 communities in the local government area are on dangers of being submerged due to the rising water level in the area.
Mr Meshach Uyi said   all the farmlands within the 34 communities are already submerged.
According to him, the  situation has led to premature harvesting of crops by farmers in the area.
He  said the local goverent council has also setup 14 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the area.
Uyi said the camps are located at Akinima,Ubeta, Mbiama, and Odhiolugboji.
Others are: Okogbe, Ihuaje, Ogbogolo, Isua (Joinkrama 2), Okarki and Ahoada among others.
Uyi said the central Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)   camp at the council headquarters  Akinima has a capacity of 8500 while the two camps at Isua Joinkrama will take1000 people each.
He said a robust sensitisation programme has been carried out across the local government area to sensitise the communities of the impending flood disasters.
According to Uyi, who is also an environmentalist, a flood preparedness plan was also put in place by  the council, adding that the plan addresses pre-flooding, flooding and post flooding issues.
He stressed the need for the federal government to find a lasting solution to the problems by not only dredge the Orashi river but construct a dam across the River Benue to contain water from the Cameroun.
Also speaking, the supervisor for information and communications,  Ahoada West Local Government Area, Madu Madueke said the various camps have been properly equipped to take care of the needs of the internally displaced persons.
He said a robust sensitization and enlightenment campaigns have been carried out across the area with the five languages spoken by the people.
According to him, people are being advised to move to the internally displaced persons camps to avoid being caught up by the flood.
He said, as a local government area that is used to perennial flooding, the council is leaving no stone unturned to mitigate the effects of the flood disasters this time around.

By: John Bibor

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