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Benue asks Dangote Cement to be environment friendly

The Benue State House of Assembly has called on Dangote Cement Company in Gboko, Benue State, to own up to her Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and adhere to proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the discharge of their duty.

A cement factory. Photo credit: broadstreetng.com

A cement factory. Photo credit: broadstreetng.com

The state Assembly made this known on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 during plenary and in debate on the Report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Poor Condition of Federal Roads in Benue State and Matters Related Thereto.

The Assembly directed the State Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment to ensure that Dangote Cement Company complies with the directives.

The house gave the directive, stating that Dangote Cement Company, Gboko should liaise with the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the Federal Ministry of Environment in order to acquire a valid EIA certificate and comply with all safety standards in the operation of the company to avoid sanctions.

Speaking earlier, in the lead debate, the Ad-Hoc Committee Chairman, Mrs Ngunan Addingi (Buruku/APC), had explained that their findings indicate that Dangote Cement did not have a valid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and has failed to adhere to safety standards in its operations as revealed by NESREA and the Benue State Environmental Sanitation Agency (BENSESA).

To this end, she called for urgent steps to be taken to address the problem for the wellbeing of staff of the company, the host community and the state in general.

In their separate contributions, the Majority Leader of the House, Mr Benjamin Adanyi (Makurdi South/APC); Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Nick Eworo (Obi/APC); Minority Leader, Sule Audu (Agatu/PDP); Terhemba Chabo (Gboko West/APC) and Kester Ikyenge (Logo/PDP), who commended the work done by the ad-hoc committee, noted that it is pertinent to forge a way to salvage the sorry state of federal roads in the state.

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They added that companies operating in the state must be awakened from their complacency to live up to their corporate social responsibility.

In their submission, Majority Whip, Mr Titus Uba (Vandeikya-Kyan/APC); Minority Whip, Mr Tor Aye (Katsina-Ala West/LP); Mr Egli Johnson (Otukpo/Akpa/PDP) and Mr Daniel Abbagu (Ukum/APC) urged all companies operating in the state to work in synergy with the host communities and the government in order to carry out their corporate social responsibility according to the dictates of international best practices.

Commenting on the performance of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in the state, Mr. B.B Nungwa (Kwande West/APC) scored them low, saying they needed to wake up to do their job very well and make the state’s roads safer to ply.

Ruling on the matter, Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange (Ushongo/APC), who advised that Dangote Cement Company, Gboko should put in place safety measures for both staff and visitors, requested the company to submit to the House within one week, evidence of compensation paid all staff who had industrial accident or who died in the course of discharging their duty with the company from 2006 to date.

The house, rising from 33 findings by the ad-hoc committee, made 27 recommendations which include: Urging Dangote Cement Plc, Gboko to urgently liaise with NESREA and the Federal Ministry of Environment in order to carry out all processes leading to the issuance of an EIA to the company; Urge NESREA and BENSESA to follow up Dangote Cement Plc, Gboko and ensure that the company complies with all their recommendations with regards to safety standards, including Environmental Management Plan (EMP), Air Quality Permit, landscaping, removal of solid waste materials, metal scraps, repair or upgrade of oil trap, effluent discharge plant, issuance and enforcement of the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) by staff and visitors, provision of adequate conveniences for staff and visitors, and installation of warning signs. That both NESREA and BENSESA do avail the House with copies of Dangote’s compliance with their recommendations within three months and subsequent follow up by the House.

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Other recommendations included that Dangote Cement Plc, Gboko to live up to its responsibility and honour its pledge to construct modern parking lot for its vehicles and another parking lot for third party vehicles within two months and that if any person attempts to disrupt the process of work by extorting money from the company, it should be reported to the House of Assembly in writing; That the House should charge FERMA to direct its contractors to fill up excavations they carry out on highways promptly to avoid exposing road users to unnecessary danger; and FERMA should continue repairing bad sections of roads and filling up of already dug out in Taraku, Ugbokolo and other parts of the state. That if any member of the community attempts to prevent the Agency from discharging its legitimate duties, it should write to the chairman of such local government and submit a copy of the letter to the House of Assembly for further actions.

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It will be recalled that the House had set up the ad-hoc committee on 5th August, 2015 following a motion moved by Mrs. Agaigbe Utsaha (Gboko East/APC), who lamented the deplorable state of Makurdi-Gboko federal road, which she noted had claimed many lives through accidents and caused a lot of discomfort to commuters, thereby calling for FERMA to be directed by the House to carry out repairs at bad portions of the road.

The five member ad-hoc committee which was chaired by Mrs Ngunan Addingi (Buruku/APC) and included Mr. Daniel Abbagu (Ukum/APC), Mr Terkaa Ucha (Vandeikya-Tiev/PDP), Dr. Adoga Onah (Oju I/PDP), Adam Okloho (Adoka/Ogboju/APC) as members with Mr Alfred Odeh as Secretary was to find out if Dangote Cement Company, Gboko has a valid EIA, if the Dangote Cement Gboko plant lives up to her corporate social responsibility and why the company has failed to repair portions of bad road within her precinct and to establish a parking lot for her vehicles.

Also, the ad-hoc committee was to interface with FERMA and Federal Ministry of Works in the state in order to acquire necessary information on the state of federal roads in the state and any other matter related to thereof.

By Damian Daga

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