Human Interest

Pollution from Rice Mill forces residents of Anambra community out of their homes

Human interest

~ Factory owner says matter is being resolved

By Our Correspondent

Residents of NGO Ndam, Nnobi in Idemili South local government area of Anambra State are running away from their homes following alleged pollution of their environment by dark smoke from the Seaman Rice Mill located at the center of the community.

However, the owner of the company, Chief Emeka Agbanari said the matter is being resolved with the leadership of the community.

Spokesman of the affected families, Mr. John Enwedo said they did not know what was being built around them until the factory started operation.

He said: The Rice Mill was sited here last year. When the production started, we noticed very dark smoke coming from the factory and our entire kindred is now covered with smoke. Many people around started experiencing itching on their eyes and some started suffering body rashes.

“The noise from the factory does not allow us to sleep. My aged mother has been falling sick frequently since the factory started operation. She too has rashes all over her body.

Since then, we had cried out to the community leader and he has not done anything. As it is, we don’t know what to do and all we need is for government to come to our rescue.

“The owner of the factory has also not done anything since we started lamenting about the problem. The factory operates 24 hours and we no longer sleep in our houses. The pollution is too much and unbearable.

“We complained to the community leader Webster Okonkwo a month ago and we are still waiting for his action. He has however promised to attend to the problem”.

According to him, the owner of the factory bought the land from two neighbouring villages, Umudiokpala and Umuchiagha and at the time the construction of the factory began, our people didn’t know that it would result to this. “Initially we thought he was building a warehouse, until the dark smoke started coming out from the factory. A member of the affected families had approached him and he promised to do something about it. Our worry was whether Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted and approved before the factory was built, but nobody could give us that information.

“We want the factory to be removed completely because this is a residential area. This is not an industrial area where factory of this nature should be sited.

” Many people in this area had relocated their livestock and other domestic animals as they were dying in large numbers on daily basis as a result of the hazard. Our tenants have abandoned their rented houses to safer areas. We can no longer collect water from our houses as the water is completely dark. Waste water is also flowing into some compounds which we believe is dangerous,” he added.

Chief Emeka Agbanari, who reacted on the matter said the process for resolving the problem is ongoing.

He said: “We are still test- running the machines and you know that in the process of test -run, there would always be errors of this nature. We are fixing the problem. We are working on it presently and the people who installed the machines are on ground working on it.

“We have talked with the people and as someone from this community, I won’t do anything to undermine the health of the people.

“The chairman of the community talked to me about it and even on Sunday, we held a meeting concerning the impact the mill is having on the villagers. We have also agreed to bring back the people that installed the machines and they are already effecting the necessary corrections as we speak.

The problem is that the tower carrying the smoke is not properly directed, but it will soon be corrected.”

He, however, argued that Rice Mill does not emit dangerous materials, adding that what the factory uses is wood that is burnt in the mill.

Anambra State Commissioner for Environmental, Dr. Felix Odumegwu said in an interview that following a petition from the community, his ministry sent a technical team to assess the situation, adding that the report is being awaited.

An agricultural extension consultant, Mr. Emma Okafor, said with what is happening in the community, plants in the area will no longer produce fruits and tubers as the dark smoke covers the leaves, thereby making it difficult for photosynthesis to take place.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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