Friday 20 April 2018

Port Harcourt Residents March for Stop The Soot Campaign

It is no news that the city of Port Harcourt have over the past 18 months been faced with the issue of air pollution in form of soot due to various activities in the state capital; from illegal bunkering, gas flaring from refineries, burning of tires and clamping down on the criminals associated with the bunkering processes at neighboring villages within the capital. The process of destroying the illegal bunkering equipment has done more harm than good, as these equipment are burnt by the task force carrying out this activity.

In February 2017, concerned citizens of Port Harcourt came out in their numbers for a campaign walk for the same purpose - calling on necessary stakeholders to do the needful regarding the soot.
More than a year after the first campaign walk, as a result of the worsening situation of the pollution and after months of online campaign to #StopTheSoot, concerned stakeholders decided to take the campaign offline and into the streets amidst the government’s insensitivity to find a lasting solution to the pollution.

The campaign had people from different walks of life come together for the purpose of achieving the same goal of ending the soot pollution. Among those present were representatives from UNEP and WHO.

In an earlier report, the state governor had called on the campaign walk organizers to take the campaign to the federal government and the state government due to the fact that the gas flaring activities and task force group working for the purpose of destroying illegal refineries in the region were directly associated and working on directives from the federal government.

However, the campaign organizers made it a point of note that the pollution is not political in any form and directed those who will come out for the walk to desist from any form of political coloration of the walk.

The campaigners started the walk for Isaac Boro Park through Azikwe Road to the Rivers State government house. They commenced from there to the state House of Assembly and the Department of Petroleum Resources on Moscow Road. The campaigners had the following demands among other mitigating actions;

1. Persuade Representatives in the National and State Assemblies to move a motion to compel the Federal Government and its relevant agencies to declare an Environmental Emergency in the State,

2. That the aforesaid National and State Assembly representatives should urgently move a motion calling for the immediate funding of the Ogoni Clean up in accordance with the recommendations of the UNEP Report,

3. Provide a supplementary Budget for Ministry of Environment to embark on an immediate Environmental Audit of Rivers State and publish the findings,

4. Direct the Ministry of Health to embark on a street to street public health campaign,

5. Order the Ministry to collaborate with the Rivers State branch of the Nigeria Medical Association to collate the average state of health of residents of Rivers State and the identity a trend if any on the cause of death of persons in the last one year,

6. Make findings the outcomes of its Committees on Health and Environment in exercise of its oversight functions for the past 2 years public,

7. Insist that the Local Government Chairman ensure the protection of their environment in collaboration with security agencies.
The Federal, State and, Local Governments are also invited to perform  their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property, which includes the environment, is given paramount attention.

Campaigners hope for a speedy resolution to the pollution that has blighted the city for several months and as conveyed by the Deputy Governor of the State and the Commissioner for Environment, we all it will happen soon.

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