Mr Furoebi Akene, an Environmentalist, has urged the Bayelsa state government to reopen the blocked Silver River in the state so as to check the spread of Cholera, which recently claimed 25 lives in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Akene, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Preservation and Development (CEPAD), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview, on Tuesday, that the blockage had worsened the spread of the infectious disease.
According to him, the blockage had made the once fresh water stagnant, which the residents along the river depended on for drinking and domestic use.
He said that the construction of the Yenagoa-Oporoma Road, which led to the blockage was avoidable, as there were many alternatives that would not require blocking the water channel.
Akene also appealed to the government to ensure that bridges across the rivers would have sufficient clearance underneath, to allow cargo boats and light fishing vessels to operate on the rivers.
“With particular reference to the Yenagoa – Oporoma section of the road under construction, I must not fail to condemn in strong terms the closure of the Silver river near Aguobiri.
“The pattern of closure of the river is quite unprofessional and unethical of river crossing of that class of river that has so much economic value and maritime activities.
“The blockade of the Silver river suggests to me that there is a gap somewhere, otherwise the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would have recommended the most appropriate method, without constituting environmental and economic hazards.
“Apart from the stagnation of maritime activities, already the environmental setting of the area is going through a lot of changes due to the adverse disequilibrium of the ecosystem.
“And also the ecology of the area, particularly the ambient environment, including the emergence of the growth of algae and siltation of the bathymetry of the river,” Akene said.
Dr Newton Igwele, state Commissioner for Health, on April 8 confirmed the outbreak of Cholera in Southern Ijaw LGA, saying that the state had deployed epidemiologists and acquired vaccines to tackle the disease. (NAN)