Several people in Aguobiri community, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State are said to have died due to cholera outbreak caused by lack of potable water in the community.
Niger Delta Trust gathered that the alleged strange death started in the community when a construction giant, CCECC, which is constructing a link road from Yenagoa to the headquarters of Southern Ijaw local government blocked the Silver River linking the community by constructing a barge across it, leaving no space for the flow of water.
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A member of the Council of Chiefs in the community, Chief Prince K. Ototomo, said the blockade of the Silver River has not only caused cholera and many deaths but has also denied members of the community access to their farmlands and fishing area.
He called on the Bayelsa State Government and the construction firm handling the Yenagoa-Oporoma Road to come to their aid by providing potable drinking water to curtail the outbreak of cholera, which has caused several deaths in the community in the past month.
He said: “The strange deaths started after the firm, CCECC, blocked the Silver River linking the community by constructing a barge across it, leaving no space for the flow of water.
“The state government and the CCECC should tackle the present food and health challenges facing our community, we are in serious danger.” He said.
When contacted, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Dr Pabara Newton-Igwele, said the Aguobiri community issue was not actually about cholera, but simply an assumption about the construction firm and the state government.
He explained that the outbreak of cholera in some parts of the state was not caused by the blockade of the water channels, adding that the state government has already dispatched a rapid response team to various communities to mitigate the spread of the disease.
He said the government in partnership with the World Health Organisation had also adopted some measures to preserve the lives of the people during the period.
Newton-Igwele said: “Some of the measures include the decentralisation of the RRT in the local government areas since last October, distribution of commodities for the containment of the outbreak, ongoing search to identify active cases and the provision of oral cholera vaccines for the vaccination of people in the affected areas.”
The construction firm, CCECC could not be reached as our reporter was denied access into their construction yard along Yenagoa-Ayama Ijaw road or to meet any official of the company.
Governor Douye Diri had during the World Water Day, observed recently, condemned the high level of pollution of the state’s water resources that has degraded its ecosystem over the years.
He urged the state ministry of water resources and other relevant stakeholders to come up with an action plan that would enable the government to achieve its agenda in harnessing its water resources.
He assured the people of the state that his administration would utilise resources at its disposal to improve access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene as part of efforts in promoting healthy lifestyles.