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Bush burning: Residents, experts decry pollution in Bayelsa

As the harmattan and new farming season begin in Bayelsa State, residents of the state and health experts have spoken against the incessant bush burning…

As the harmattan and new farming season begin in Bayelsa State, residents of the state and health experts have spoken against the incessant bush burning adopted by farmers and other people to clear farmlands.

They especially warned against incessant bush burning during the harmattan period as the practice poses a clear danger to the environment and inhabitants.

While residents of the state always complained of black soot, which they think is as a result of illegal refining of crude oil, health experts revealed that the practice of bush burning causes similar damage to the environment.

The residents have ascribed the prevalent health dangers such as inflammation problems, eye issues, rashes on the body and many others to the negative effects of bush burning.

Also, the practice is said to have affected the ozone layer, which has resulted in the severe problem of climate change, while the natural habitat is also the worst hit, resulting in killing green areas in the state.

A resident of Yenagoa, Kugbo Kesi Nestor, observed that some people have been seen burning bushes, as it seems to be the cheapest way of getting rid of weeds and waste in the dry season but are unconcerned about the health implications on inhabitants and the environment in general.

He noted that the smoke and other particulates which emanate from bush burning contain pollutants that can cause adverse effects to humans, animals the soil and aggravate climate, among others.

A health expert, Dr Jones Stow, while reacting to the practice of bush burning in the state, said the toxic substances released from bush burning can result in irritation of the eyes, dermatitis, irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract as well as dizziness and headache among others.

He advised farmers in the state to explore the traditional means of clearing their farmlands and not adopt bush burning as it can also cause severe damage to the environment.

Another health expert, Dr Chukwuemeka Chioma, stated that smoke, dust and soot released from bush burning can cause cancer, respiratory arrest, greenhouse effect and depletion of the ozone layer among others, urging residents of the state to look for better methods to remove weed and waste products.

Already, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has called for a stop to the practice of bush burning in Bayelsa to avert its dangerous and deadly effects on the environment, human health, and communities.

The State Director of NOA, Mr Ellis Nria Dappa, also made an appeal when the Women Organized for Mentorship and Advocacy Network (WOMAN), visited him in his office at the Federal Secretariat, Yenagoa, saying, the call is in line with the agency’s efforts to address major environmental issues in Nigeria, especially Bayelsa State, and to sustain national values through collaboration with civil society organizations.

“The call to stop bush burning in Bayelsa aligns with our broader commitment to environmental advocacy and collaboration with relevant stakeholders,” he said.

He therefore sought the support of non-governmental organisations to mobilize communities, raise awareness, and implement sustainable strategies to prevent and manage bush burning in the state.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State government has warned those involved in the practice to desist, especially in the residential areas, as it could cause fire incidents and other environmental effects.

The state Commissioner for Environment, Hon. lselema Gbaranbiri, said in a statement that the practice of bush burning has made the atmosphere unhealthy for residents in the state, as it was not only detrimental to human health and the environment but also capable of causing fire hazards in neighbourhoods.

“The Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, in line with the Prosperity Government’s policy on maintaining a healthy, safe, sanitized and sustainable environment for all, is by this announcement issuing a stern warning to the general public to desist from the indiscriminate burning of bushes and unsanitary open garbage burning, especially around residential areas in the state which has been very regular in recent times,” he said.

He said the act has made the atmosphere unhealthy for residents in the state, which is not only detrimental to human health and the environment but also capable of causing fire hazards.

“Any individual or group of individuals caught would be dealt with decisively by the appropriate authorities. Residents and stakeholders are also enjoined to report perpetrators to the government,” he said.

 

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