[From INI BILLIE, Uyo]
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Charles Udoh has said the erosion and constant flooding of some areas in Uyo were man-made.
Udoh blamed the seeming failure of the State Government to tackle the problem of flood and erosion to the failure of successive governments to judiciously follow the drainage Master Plan for Uyo.
Speaking with a section of newsmen on Tuesday in Uyo, Udoh stated that the constant flood and erosion was because most of the houses were built on water channels.
“Unfortunately, the drainage master plan for Uyo was not followed in the past, so today we are buillding an 8.4 kilometres drains that will take water from Atiku Abubakar up to the Secretariat roundabout, then link it up to the Women Development Center along IBB way, into Atan Offot up to the PDP secretariat.
“That drainage because of the volume of water around the areas, will carry 50,000 litres of water per second. That is what we are doing about the IBB flood project. We also sought emergency intervention around Etim Umanah and Anua which is expected by August.
“There is something that I want us to learn here, that most of the environmental problems we are tackling in the state are man-made problems. For instance in the past 15years, there was been IBB flood problem because houses are built on water channels.
“That is why public education, sensitization is important against blocking the drainages with debris. We are also planning to bring back days of sanitary inspection, the environmental officials whose business it¹ is to promote environmental health,” he said.
The Commissioner said the Ministry has reviewed a lot of complaints about noise pollution, noting that it will continue in it’s public sensitization and awareness exercise against such practices.
He said soon, violators against noise pollution and other environmental issues would be arrested and prosecuted.
“Of course I have received much complaint about noise pollution, it is an aspect that we will deal with as we progress,” he said.
On the activities of miners in the state, Udoh agreed that though mining was on the exclusive list, government would not allow people to take advantage of it to destroy government infrastructure.
He stated that government would regulate the activities of miners in the state, but not to witch hunt or put anybody out of business.
He advised those with licenses to operate to liaise with the ministry on how to carry out their operations, adding that defaulters would not be spared as government would not consider any ‘sacred cows’.
“Mining is in the exclusive list. Illegal sand and gravel mining are dangerous to our environment.
“When it comes to mining, we are saying that if you are dredging on a river, you cannot go lower than 150 meters close from the bank of the River to avoid triggering erosion and on land, you must not dredge lower than 500 meters from critical infrastructure.
“Sadly, today a case in point is between Eket and Onna where someone was arrested for dredging under the bridge. A bridge can collapse, and the environment devastated because of dredging. Following the Law, that is what we are doing,” he stated.