Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State
By Omon Julius Onabu and Hammed Shittu
Worried by the growing menace of flash floods across the country, many states have begun a full crackdown on all forms of environmental offences in a bid to minimise cases of flooding that has wrecked many homes and claimed many lives.
Several states which never used to be strict on the enforcement of the monthly environmental sanitation exercise, stepped up their concern last Saturday when the monthly exercise was observed in some states.
In Delta State for instance, no less than 50 persons were arrested and arraigned before the state mobile court for allegedly violating various environmental laws in the Warri/Effurun metropolis during last Saturday’s monthly exercise.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State personally led the inspection team during the exercise. He was accompanied by the Environment Commissioner, Chief Frank Omare, who has been overseeing the demolition of illegal structures and opening up of the drainage system, especially in Warri South and Uvwie Local Government Areas.
Several parts of the state such as Warri, Ughelli, Oleh and Sapele have suffered flash flood in the past, with many homes submerged, property destroyed and lives lost.
Uduaghan attributed most of the flood incidents to the blockage of water channels by those who carried out illegal construction or those who threw dirt into drainage.
It was a visibly angry Uduaghan who inspected several canals and other filth-blocked flood channels undergoing clearing with swamp boats at Iyara, Odein, Okrikpen and Okwagbe streets in Essi Layout. He also inspected those in Esisi Street/Swamp Road, Okumagba Layout/Lower Erejuwa and McDermott Road/Globestar Road.
Although, the residents of Jakpa Road/Okoloba area rivulet and the Essi Layout were thrown into wild jubilation as Uduaghan unfolded to them plans by the state government to open the flood ways to save their houses and property from the massive floods, the governor did not mince words in condemning the conspicuously “dirty surroundings and poor sanitation habits in many parts of Warri and Effurun.”
“Any house or illegal structure standing in flood channels or drainage system will definitely be pulled down, no matter the size and owner of the structure”, Uduaghan warned, while promising the commencement of rehabilitation of the affected areas by providing infrastructure that includes tarred roads and modern drainage system.
“Please, let us change our dirty habits,” Uduaghan appealed while speaking with residents at Essi Layout. “Why should we be adorned in beautiful cloths whereas our surroundings are dirty and we shamelessly dump our refuse or waste materials in the streets and gutters?”
The state government commenced general demolition of all illegal houses, stalls and other structures in Warri, Effurun and Sapele about a week ago in line with the ongoing state’s urban renewal programme, under the supervision of Omare’s environment ministry.
Commenting on efforts to rid the state of filth, the Chairman of the state’s Sanitation Board, Chief Olori Magege, said: “We have stepped up efforts to ensure that Delta State becomes cleaner and brighter in the months and years ahead.”
He added that public sanitation enlightenment "are being organised for the people on how best to manage their wastes, especially in view of the global effect of climate change”.
In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, about 49 persons were arrested and prosecuted at the weekend during the monthly sanitation for allegedly failing to observe sanitation laws put in place by the state government.
The state Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Hon. Samuel Bamisaiye, told reporters Sunday in Ilorin that it was disturbing that some people have continued to fail to participate in the monthly environmental sanitation, especially the youths of Zango area of the state capital.
According to him, “a defaulter of the sanitation law beat up a police officer and tore his uniform in the officer’s bid to arrest him for non-compliance with the sanitation law.”
He said a mobile court had been established to try offenders and to ensure that such incidents would not occur again in subsequent exercises.
Bamisaiye added that the government was committed to good environment for the citizenry and would not condone any attitude that would hinder the monthly sanitation exercise in the state.
In his remark, one of the sanitation officials, Mr. Raphael Adedayo Odeyemi, said the judge of the mobile court only managed to escape during the fight between the youth and the police officer.
Odeyemi, who commended the security personnel effort in saving the situation from escalating, also noted that the police and the arrested offender had been taken to Zango Police Station.
Director of Environment in the ministry, Alhaji Sikiru Olanipekun, thanked the police, other security agencies and stakeholders for ensuring the success of the exercise.
THISDAY checks revealed that there was appreciable level of compliance of people during the sanitation exercise in some areas which include Oloje, Alfa Yahaya, Gerin Alimi, Gambari, Ita Ajia and Ipata market areas of the state capital.
Three new courts were constituted to speed up the trial of possible offenders during the exercise. The new courts will focus on offenders from Tipper Garage, Tanke, Gerin Alimi and Zango to ensure effectiveness and full participation in the exercise.