Soot in Owaza of Ukwa West Local Government Area, Abia State Foreshadows Environmental Disaster, FENRAD & CEHRAWS Cries Out
Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy and environmental rights and Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS) a civil rights advocacy group has noticed and noted with dismay the sooty particles overwhelming communities in Ukwa West LGA, Abia State. This, the rights group warned, foreshadows a looming danger with huge impact.
After a visit to some communities in the said LGA, FENRAD & CEHRAWS is of the view that there is a need now for both mitigative and restorative measure that averts what it believes poses a potential environmental threat. The organizations calls on the state government, ministry of environment, other relevant agencies, including the federal government to intervene, since from its findings the soot is as a result of illegal refineries now endangering livelihood in the affected areas.
While there exist, within petroleum informal sector, Indigenous and illegal refineries, the organizations regrets that this illegal industry is being aided in no small measure by security agencies like the military and civil defence operatives, for which clashes between host communities and the security agencies have broken out countless times.
It is to be understood that, as is the case with Rivers State, many locals and other interest groups are racketeering in the shady deal now becoming a norm in Ukwa West. The outcome of such environmental recklessness, all available records show, has always remained largely unsustainable and insufferable for the most part. In Rivers State and elsewhere, governments there, FENRAD & CEHRAWS observed, have begun implementation of stiff penalties and severe punishments against offenders with many of such local refineries torn down.
With this current trend, lifespan of the said communities including that of the unborn and pregnant women are already endangered. Soot is not a domestic waste particle but suspended impure carbon with high toxicity, dangerous to biodiversity and the entire ecosystem. It is shocking that in a world where everyone is moving towards alternative and clean source of energy with the talk of biodiversity as the plank of state and non-state actors' commitment towards sustainable development, Abia could be going in a reverse direction in the name of Kpo Fire and illegal bunkering. This, FENRAD & CEHRAWS says is worrisome.
FENRAD & CEHRAWS however, calls on traditional ruler(s) and village heads of the affected communities and towns to do the needful to end this depletion. Also calls on state and federal government to do the needful by harnessing the petroleum subsector so as to avert a looming danger.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor Executive Director
Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD
Comrade Okoye Chuka Peter
Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and Wholesome Society (CEHRWAS