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How quarry activities put Bauchi community on edge

Birshin Fulani is a community on the outskirts of Bauchi, the capital city of Bauchi State, which is battling environmental pollution associated with quarry activities…

Birshin Fulani is a community on the outskirts of Bauchi, the capital city of Bauchi State, which is battling environmental pollution associated with quarry activities conducted by a construction company, Triacta Nigeria Limited.

 A resident and victim of the pollution, Aliyu Ladan Bawa, told Daily Trust that the community was living in hell because of environmental and health challenges since the establishment of the quarry.

Bawa said, “We are in a terrible situation with the activities of Triacta which are negatively affecting our lives in different ways, especially hazardous particles threatening our health. We have coughs which defy all manner of medication.”

“Apart from the coughing, their activities are also causing cracks on our houses resulting in the collapse of parts. Another disturbing part is that it is drying off our local wells and also destroying our soak away and pit toilets.

“No one is immune from the scary scenes of their explosion. If a stranger visits and hears the sound, he could run for his life.”

He further said, “I lost my little daughter from an unfortunate incident associated with the explosion, because when they blew the explosive she became shocked and started screaming. Since then she developed fright at the slightest sound. We took her to the hospital but we were unable to get a solution. We battled for almost two years but were not successful as she died.”

Bawa noted that the community had made several attempts to find solutions to the challenge through the authorities and that they promised to take steps to mitigate the problem but never did anything.

He disclosed that the community demanded that Triacta build a hospital that would treat people for the smoke they were inhaling, but that unfortunately even a single room dispensary was not provided for the community.

He further said: “We believe the authorities are very much aware of the modern ways of quarry activities that are environmentally friendly. We don’t have anything to say or do about it except the government which knows better what to do.”

 An environmentalist and lecturer at the Department of Environmental Management, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Dr Haruna Adamu, said there were practical ways to solve the challenges.

He said, “If policies can be enforced on the construction companies whichever wants to engage or embark on quarry, there are certain things that can be put to them to observe before embarking on it. There are technologies that can be used without having much significant impact on the environment.”

Adamu explained that the Federal Ministry of Environment, State Ministry of Environment and Environment Protection Agency could bring down the construction companies and inform them of the processes that could be employed that had less effects.

He said, “The only way to address the environmental challenges affecting communities is by applying technologies in extracting these resources without inflicting much significant effects on the environment. There are processes that are called green technologies, which have less or no effect. They can quarry the minerals without introducing anything into the environment.”

While noting that officials from the federal and state ministries, as well as environmental protection agency, all knew the green technologies but usually didn’t enforce them on industries, he said the construction companies also knew about them but that because of the cost implications and sometimes the complications they always went for the simpler ones.

He, however, said they could be encouraged to go into planting of trees because tree plantations would lessen the effects of dust to the people in the vicinity where the quarry activities were carried out.

Meanwhile, the situation prompted the Bauchi State Government to recently set up a committee to investigate and proffer solutions to the environmental problems that affect the Birshin Fulani community.

The Commissioner for Natural Resources, Bello Maiwada, who spoke with newsmen after a meeting with the community’s stakeholders and management of Triacta in Bauchi, pledged the state government’s commitment to ensure a safe environment for residents by tackling headlong the challenges of environmental pollution.

He said, “Environmental problems affect the community in a number of negative ways. Pollution contaminates the air and water with toxins, which leads to health consequences for impacted communities. Nobody has immunity to combat the negative impact of environmental pollution and that is why, as a concerned government, we are going to ensure a safe environment.’’

Speaking at the meeting, the Village Head of Birshin Fulani, Alhaji Lawal Ahmed, said, “We are indeed facing challenges with the dust particles in this community, especially as it relates to our health. With the committee in place, certainly we will find a solution to our problem.”

On his part, the Manager Triacta Construction Company, Habib Geager, called for collaboration among government and stakeholders on how to tackle the menace.

He reiterated the commitment of the company to provide its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to its host communities in the state.

 

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