Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The pervasive air pollution in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, may further spread to and impact other states across the country adversely if it is not urgently addressed, the Federal Government has warned.
According to the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, the Federal Government is becoming worried by the growing cases of respiratory diseases, eye problems and other ailments associated with the air pollution.
Jibril disclosed this at a one-day stakeholders meeting that was convened by the Federal Government in Port Harcourt to find a lasting solution to the problem in the city and environs, according to a report by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency in Abuja on Monday.
The minister warned that if the air pollution in Port Harcourt and environs persisted, it could have serious direct and indirect implications on other parts of the country.
“We have come here to act now. The outcome of this meeting will not only assist to address the problem in Port Harcourt and its environs, but also other parts of the country,” he was quoted as saying.
The minister told participants that the government was deeply concerned about the growing incidence of soot, in the form of thick black smoke covering the city and the region, and the complaints associated with its settling on rooftops, floors, offices and vehicles.
He said the outcome of the meeting would greatly assist in charting a new course to end the menace, adding that although the government was aware of its responsibility to protect the environment and human health, improving air quality in Nigeria should be a collective duty.
Jibril said several consultative meetings had been carried out in the past that involved key stakeholders in the public and private sectors at the federal and state levels, and stressed that there was an urgent need to further intensify actions to address the problem.
He urged residents of the area to remain calm and take adequate protective measures, and advised them to be vigilant at all times and report any illegal act that might adversely affect air quality to the appropriate authorities.
The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, NESREA, Dr. Lawrence Anukam, said the meeting was organised by the agency to elicit concrete recommendations with forward looking programmes and activities that would address the problem.
The meeting had stakeholders from various government institutions, private sector players, traditional rulers, non-governmental organisations, the academia and other interested parties in attendance.
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