Some residents of Port Harcourt and Bolo communities have lauded the Federal Government, Rivers Government and the Nigerian Navy for taking steps to end hydrocarbon pollution in the state.
A cross section of respondents who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, said the soot emission had suddenly disappeared from their homes and places of work.
NAN also reports that Rivers has been grappling with soot emission blamed on the activities of illegal oil refiners as well as indiscriminate burning of tyres and certain activities in abattoirs that affected the ecosystem.
“It is gratifying to note that the soot menace which we have all been worried about has all of a sudden vanished from the atmosphere,” Joseph Ada, a civil servant, said.
Lucy Offor, a banker, said reduction of the soot was timely in view of the grave health risk the air pollution had on the health of the people.
“My hope is that government and particularly the Nigerian Navy continue to do whatever they are doing to avoid resurgence of illegal refining sites in the state.
“It is too real to be true that we are again breathing seemingly quality clean air after several months of breathing contaminated oxygen and hydrocarbon particles,” she added.
Chibuzor Obiora, a spare part dealer in the popular Ikokwu Market, described the declining soot as a welcome development to business in the market.
Etim Udoh, a teacher, however, said the rainy season might have contributed to the reduction of soot in the atmosphere, pointing out that the situation would become clearer during the dry season.
An operator of one of the destroyed illegal oil facilities in Bolo community, Abgede Oloye, attributed the soot reduction to ‘Swam Buggy’ operation launched by the navy in the destruction of illegal refineries.
Oloye, who expressed mixed feelings over destruction of his illegal bunker site, agreed the site and other illegal refineries commonplace in the area were partly responsible for the soot.
“The Navy has reduced our sites to scrapes. However, the air pollution has reduced, and we no long take drugs to treat ourselves of the smoke we inhale at the sites,” he explained.
Capt. Victor Choji, Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder Port Harcourt, said the navy was winning the war against oil theft and soot pollution in the state.
He explained that the swam buggy approach was a strategy that completely crushed metallic tanks and reduced capability of oil thieves to revive their illegal oil refineries.
“We are using a multi-faceted approach in tackling the soot knowing that unlawful refining of crude oil was major source of funding for sea pirates and other criminal elements.
“If people could build illegal refineries; they can equally use same ingenuity to create legitimate means of livelihood for themselves,” he said.
The Rivers Commissioner for Environment, Prof. Roseline Konya, agreed that the soot had reduced, thanks to joint efforts of the State Government, the navy and other stakeholders.
“Government set up a technical committee; task force and employed the services of experts to tackle the soot. We thank God that the soot has reduced,” she noted.
By Desmond Ejibas