Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region have cried out over the increase in soot particles in the atmosphere around Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and other parts of the region.
Speaking at Stop The Soot Conference in Port Harcourt on Thursday, the stakeholders insisted that the people of the region were dying gradually and slowly due to daily inhaling of the soot particles.
In his presentation, a digital forensics and cybersecurity expert, Robinson Sibe, called on the Rivers State government to set up fixed and mobile air quality monitoring facilities in parts of the state.
Sibe said: “This is not a day to dwell on the problems of soot. Verifiable sources of the soot include uncontrolled destruction of petroleum products, uncontrolled burning of tyres and activities of oil companies.
“Clearly residents of Port Harcourt and its environs are on death row. Even though, we are not seeing the hangman, but we are dying slowly and gradually. I am recommending that there should be 12 fixed air quality monitoring locations and six mobile air quality monitoring facility in Port Harcourt.
“The facilities should be located in parts of the state. This is because this is the hub of hydrocarbon and there should be regular check on the quality of air. There should be moves to end artisanal refining in the Niger Delta.
“Government and stakeholders need to come up with sustainable solution to this challenge and not issuing of statements. There is need to partner with local and international groups for periodic medical texts in the state. Partner with schools, including the primary and secondary schools to set up environmental clubs.
In his remarks, former Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Iniruo Wills, ruled out the use of force as solution to the soot challenge in the Niger Delta region.
Wills said: “This is going to be a process of further conversation and more importantly actions and engagement with different stakeholders.
“Also, we are looking at solutions. What is the way forward from the various dimensions, health dimension, economic dimension.
“This is not going to be an attempt to propose a security solution. Out philosophy is there must be a way that all that are affected including the culprits will be brought into the mix. This is a huge social challenge before us and we are going to find a way out of it.”