My life, our lives endangered.

On the morning of the 8th February, I got up early as usual with the urge to resume my morning exercise which is primarily jogging along the Peter Odili road. After a long break from jogging, I must say that this morning’s workout wasn’t bad at all.

However, my hopes to continue this healthy habit were dashed when I got back home and walked into the bathroom preparing to shower. My first visible spittle in the toilet left me dazzed so did subsequent ones for which I had to use the wash hand sink this time around. It was all Black. Then it dawned on me that it was for this same reason I had stopped jogging, but this time it was very scary.

Where ever this soot is coming from should as a matter of urgency be located and the activities responsible for this environmental hazard terminated. We all are dying including the seemingly inactive government officials whose responsibility it is to tackle this issue. I do not believe they would work in silence owing to the fact that even their lives is at risk. We all breathe the same air and if you (yes you Mr. Govt Official) think your air conditioned home, office and car would save you then you are completely in denial of the fact and have chosen to embrace rather the “alternative fact”.

I say “seemingly inactive” because the one and only time a press release in the form of a letter was made with respect to this issue was apparently a plea from the ministry of environment to residents asking that they independently investigate and revert back to the ministry with useful information as it regards the source and location causing this environmental hazard. This was a good step, but that was weeks ago. Somewhere in November 2016, but this situation was experience months before it got worse around that time. The reason we didn’t notice it was the constant rains that poured during those months.

Cars would be washed in the morning at around 6:30am — 7:00am and by the time you’re set to leave home say 7:45am, you get into an argument with the gate man or whoever washed your car simply because the soot has settled down on your car again. When it rains, the storm water from the roof that passes through the roof gutters sends down black acidic water and for several weeks/months one wondered what would have been the cause.

All these are trivial when compared with the health harzard from rain water. People who live in batchers or makeshift shelters often keep buckets outside when it rains. Where they don’t drink from it, they’ll bathe the water. How about cases where the tanks in our homes have broken covers or non at all. The rains pour right into these tanks without our knowledge and sadly we may have drank directly or bathed the highly polluted and possibly acidic water.

Did the residents complain, oh yes they did. Beside social media, I know for certain the my estate wrote to National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) as well as the Rivers State Ministry of Health and Environment. Then came the letter that was circulated via social media from the Rivers State Ministry of Environment asking us the residents to report useful information that would aid them in curbing this challange.

Fast foward to January 2017, the rains where no more. We became more aware of the soot. Black feet, spittle, nose etc. It was more evident on our cars. And a couple of days ago, the matter is now worse.

Some blame it on the illegal refineries which they say have multipled due to the current hike in diesel prices, another school of thought attributes it to the burning of condemned motor tyres by the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA),others attribute it to the destruction of illegal refineries. One thing I know is that the earlier we (Government and Residents) tackle this issue, the safer our environment.

I want to call on the Rivers State Government, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), IOCs, and other relevant agencies to see this issue as urgent and treat as such.

So to whom it may concern, please do the needful.

From a Very Concerned Rivers Indigene and Resident.

#SOSBlackSootPH

#OurLivesMatter

#RSGovtActNow

#SaveTheFuture

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