The member representing Port Harcourt Constituency I in the Rivers House of Assembly, Victoria Nyeche, has urged the state government to show more interest in tackling the soot challenge in the state.
Soot is a deep black powdery substance consisting largely of amorphous carbon produced by the incomplete burning of organic materials like tyres.
Nyeche told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on Monday, April 9, 2018 that the air pollution challenge is not beyond the capacity of the state to tackle.
She, however, said that the government had yet to identify the source of the problem.
“I don’t think that the soot challenge is beyond the capacity of the Rivers government, the state has to show more interest in stopping the environmental menace.
“Before you can ask for help, you show that you have done your best and my opinion is I have not seen that best,” she said.
According to Nyeche, the state government should be able to identify the source of the soot and hold some persons accountable for polluting the air and putting human lives under threat.
“There must be a statement from the government saying that these are the actions we have taken and it is beyond us and we need help; but now I don’t see we need help.
“We need to do what we ought to do as a government to safeguard the life of the people, we need to show that we are placing premium on their lives,” she said.
The lawmaker, however, acknowledged that the state government did set-up a committee on the soot issue and the Rivers Assembly also invited the Commissioner for Environment for explanations.
“But the truth of the matter is that the problem is still persisting and as a government we owe the people a duty of care.
“We have to ensure that the problem has been sorted out or actually eliminated because it’s a cumulative challenge as we might not see the effect now.
“But if you do a Health Impact Analysis (HIA), you will know that there is an increase in the number of respiratory problems.
“It will be worse for children because their respiratory organs are not well developed, so they are more susceptible to health and lungs related challenges,” she said.
The legislator also said that it was in the public domain that illegal oil refining in the creeks was the cause.
“And of course, you don’t need to be a scientist to know that the soot coming out from illegal oil refining without confinement goes into the air and pollute it.
“When it goes into the air, it will contribute to the environmental challenges that we have,” she said.
Nyeche, the only female lawmaker in the state assembly, also advised residents to stop unhealthy and unsanitary practices.
She said that youths involved in vandalising pipelines in reaction to the activities of oil companies and security agents assigned to stop illegal refining that were burning the products when they apprehend culprits were also contributing to the menace.
“The security agents that seize these products and burn them, and our youths that vandalise pipelines also contribute to the problem because it is not a sustainable way of tackling the issue.
“You don’t dig a pit to cover another, you get people polluting the environment and you further pollute it by discharging the product through burning,” she said.
By Omuboye Sukubo