A Port Harcourt Based Environmental Manager , Mr Meshack Uyi has indicted the Federal Security Agencies for the soot plaguing the Rivers State Capital.
Mr Uyi also indicted Federal Environmental and Petroleum Regulatory Agencies for the prevalence of soot in Port Harcourt.
In an interview with journalists on Friday in Port Harcourt, Mr Uyi noted that the Rivers State Government has taken measures to check the soot within the limits approved for it by extant laws .
He said: “Those who are saddled with the onerous responsibility of policing the pipelines and ensuring that crude is not tampered with and end up with operators of illegal refineries, are the ones operating these illegal refineries.
“The security agencies in Rivers State in unmistakable terms, are the owners of the illegal refineries we see in Rivers State and around the creeks of the Niger Delta. The security agencies are so deeply involved to the extent there is no incentive for them to stop illegal refineries. They are profiting from them”.
He said as a result of the wide profit margins for the security agencies in illegal refineries which cause soot, they will never cooperate with the Rivers State Government to end the soot.
“They will never pull down their own business. They are eating from the illegal refineries. Unfortunately, they don’t even stay in Port Harcourt, that is why they have refused to police the pipelines.
“You ask yourself, what has happened to the surveillance contracts? Why are the pipelines not being policed? What is the source of the crude for the illegal refineries?
“Illegal refinery operators are not the producers of crude. They only tap from existing sources and their suppliers. Stop the sources of crude and the illegal refineries will disappear. Flood the market with kerosene and illegal refineries will reduce to zero”, he said.
He stated that the Rivers State Government, through the State Ministry of Environment and the office of the Senior Special Assistant on Pollution Control, has paid advocacy and enlightenment visits to security and regulatory agencies
The Environmental Manager said that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government and her security agencies to resolve the soot challenge.
He particularly said that the Department of Petroleum Resources has failed in her duty of checking the excesses of the multinationals and refinery operators.
On the protests, he said the focus should be on the Federal Government and her agencies who have neglected their constitutional responsibilities on the environment.
He said that it is mischievous to focus on Rivers State Government that has limited role to play, noting that the action of protesters on the soot creates the impression that they are sponsored to promote certain interests
“The question that I have asked the protesters, which they are yet to answer. What is the Rivers State Government expected to do to stop the soot that it has not done within its limited responsibility. If you want to protest, protest against the federal agencies saddled with the responsibility by law to protect the environment.
“If you are going to protest, your protest must not be one-sided. It must not be biased. It must be balanced “.