Residents of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, and environs are currently in the grip of panic, following the pollution of the air by strange soot-like particles causing discomfort. The particles, which are found to have settled in many homes and cars, are said to be causing respiratory difficulties.
The Adolors, a Port Harcourt-based family, said they have found it difficult to sleep at night, as their child coughs all night. The particles also leave dirt in their home.
"What we have been experiencing is a serious concern to us. We don’t know where the thing is from. It has blackened everywhere in our home, and it is hard to clean. My son, Kelvin, can’t breathe well at night. He coughs all through. We took to wearing face masks, but they haven’t provided much relief,” said the head of the family.
Worried by the situation, some residents have concluded arrangements to stage a road walk to create awareness about the dangers posed by the soot. Ms. Myne Wilfried, one of those involved in the proposed walk, explained that awareness is very crucial. “Many of us are suffering. Our noses are assailed. The water we drink and use for other things in our homes is polluted. You wake in the morning and you are confronted with black particles. It is unsafe to be indifferent because they may have potential to cause cancer. What we want to do is not political. We are not protesting against the government. We are creating awareness for everybody, for all residents, " she explained.
The Rivers State government has made moves to arrest the situation. One of these was the setting up of a task force to find the cause of the root and an enduring solution. The task force has also shut down some material production plants suspected to be responsible for the soot.
A Chinese-owned asphalt plant, CGC, at Obirikwere-Airport Link Road, was shut down on Friday by the task force, following the discovery of smog-like emissions from its furnace. SaharaReporters gathered that the management of the plant would be prosecuted.
A statement by the Ministry of the Environment said the government task force established comprises experts from Ministries of the Environment and Health.