Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Akwa Ibom state Government has been urged to take firm action to curb disaster issues such as flood, communal crises, fire outbreaks and accidents in the state.
In a communique issued at the end of a recent two-day workshop on â€˜Enhancing Disaster Management in Akwa Ibom Stateâ€™, participants at the forum frowned on the fact that most disasters in the state were avoidable if safety measures were strictly adhered to.
The workshop, which was attended by more than 250 participants drawn from across various sectors, tasked the state government to immediately close down all petrol filling stations erected and operating within residential areas in the state to avoid the dire consequences that may erupt in any event of fire outbreak.
The State Government was equally urged to update on regular basis and enforce building regulations to ensure safety of building structures used as offices, homes and meeting halls.
Also, the participants at the workshop drawn from both public and public sectors stressed that communal conflicts should be promptly resolved, and where they are land-related and intractable, government should take over the portions of land in dispute to mitigate conflict between and among the disputing communities.
The workshop posited that security agencies on the waterways and coastal regions should be strengthened and well equipped to check criminal activities of pirates.
Government was equally urged to enforce the use of buoys/life jackets by marine transporters and their passengers, to mitigate impacts of boat mishap.
The need for collaboration among critical stakeholders, such as the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other corporate bodies in disaster management to enable adequate and prompt response, recovery and rehabilitation in the event of any disaster in the state was stressed.
Stakeholders in the safety business, including the mass media, the workshop said should be more proactive than reactive, though the effective study of risk issues, hazard and disaster trends, in specific localities to be able to build requisite data base to enhance sustainable safety engagements.
The State government was asked to enforce the laws disallowing activities such as erecting structures, cutting down trees, quarrying of sand/gravels, dumping of refuse and farming close to erosion sites.
â€œGovernment should enforce the use of foot bridges, where available across roads, through arrests and prosecution in mobile courts to prevent avoidable losses of livesâ€, the communique stated.
Worried by disturbing incidents of such disasters as flood, communal crises, fire outbreaks and accidents, in the state; and determined to stem the ugly trends, the State Government in collaboration with Dejo Consultants Ltd organised the workshop.
The event, which was co-sponsored by Exxonmobil, drew more than 230 participants from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), members of State House of Assembly, Local Governments, the organised private sector, the military, NGOs, fishermen, as well as traditional leaders, etc.
Some of the papers presented by experts were on safety, environmental studies, and disaster mitigation. Simulation exercises were also conducted for participants on fire outbreaks, auto-accidents and basic first aids.