Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has put a huge part of the blame over the black soot in the atmosphere of Port Harcourt, the state capital at the feet of the federal government.
According to the Governor, the black soot is an environmental disaster which his administration has tried to tackle but the lack of cooperation from the federal government has so far frustrated their efforts.
Wike in a part of his new year message to the people of Rivers State submitted that the activities of those carrying out illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners is majorly responsible for the soot enveloping Port Harcourt.
He stated further that the federal government has been contacted severally by his administration to stop the illegal activities but their request has not elicited any response.
Apart from the silence, Naija News reports the Rivers State Governor said security agencies have been actively collaborating with the illegal refiners by protecting them which has therefore encouraged such people to continue their harmful activities.
The Governor said: “Let me also reiterate that we are as overly concerned as the public over the black soot environmental disaster that has continued to envelope Port Harcourt and upsetting residents for quite some time.
“As a State Government, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging, and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated.
“We have equally appealed without success to our people engaging in this illegal business to consider its negative effects on our economy, environment, public safety, and public health and disengage from it.
“We will continue to engage and plead with the Federal Government to intervene and save our people from this serious environmental and health emergency.”
Governor Wike highlighted steps taken by his own government to address the situation, stating that the soot constitutes a serious health challenge to residents.
According to him, the chairman of the affected local government area has been directed to go after the illegal crude oil refiners and shut down their sites.
“However, since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the State, we have no option than to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves.
“Consequently, I have directed the Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.”
“Furthermore, all Local Government Chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action,” he said.
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