The Rivers State Government has assured those whose vessels were involved in yesterday’s fire outbreak at Woji Jetty in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state that the government would get to the root of the problem and bring the perpetrators to book.
The Commissioner for Environment, Prof Roseline Konya, who stated this, yesterday, while on an on-the-spot inspection of the fire scene at the jetty said a full-scale investigation was already on to unravel the cause of the fire which destroyed vessels worth N10billion.
Konya said the state government was working round the clock to ensure that Rivers environment was free of pollution and the people have fresh air, but regretted that the activities of illegal refineries were causing more problems to the people and giving the government sleepless nights.
She advised those living around the area to vacate because the billowing smoke was dangerous to their health. According to her, “the Rivers State Government is on the road 24hours a day for the safety of the people. “The people should help government so that we have good air. Government does not pollute the air or environment. It is the activities of men that pollute the environment. I cannot say what has caused the fire because it is very difficult to get close to the source and dangerous to inhale the smoke but our investigation will help solve the puzzle”, she said
However, the lawyer to the firm that owns one of the vessels that was affected, Barrister Ignatius Onyekachi blamed the activities of illegal refineries as the cause of the fire, regretting that his clients have lost billions of naira. Onyekachi said he had made several verbal complaints against the illegal refineries and their activities at the Jetty, but regretted that the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) was not ready to arrest the situation despite reports on the issue.
He described the loss as huge, estimating that his clients may have lost well over N3billion, including a contract of N2billion with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) following the loss of the vessel. The legal practitioner said the firm; Swatlents Limited would take the JTF to court because it has failed to carry out its duties to secure lives and property at the jetty.
According to him, “these hoodlums carry out these activities even in broad day light without any military attempt to stop them. It also shows that the military is working with the hoodlums”.