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SOUTHERN IJAW CHOLERA OUTBREAK: Environmentalist Urges Gov’t To Open Blocked Silver River

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by Our Correspondent

A Bayelsa State based Environmentalist, Furoebi Akene has urged the State government to reopen the blocked Silver River to check the spread of Cholera in the area.

The Environmentalist, who is also the Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Preservation and Development (CEPAD) said in an interview on Monday, April 19, said that the blockade has worsened the spread of the infectious disease.

According to him; “The blockage had made the once fresh water which the residents along the river stagnant depend on for drinking and domestic purposes stagnant.”

Akene noted that the construction of the Yenagoa-Oporoma which led to the blockade was avoidable as there were many alternatives that would not require blockage of the water channel.

He also appealed to the government to ensure that bridges across the rivers would have sufficient clearance to allow cargo boats and light fishing vessels to operate in the rivers.

He said; “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 have so much economic value and maritime activities.

“The blockade of the silver river suggests to me that there is gap somewhere, otherwise the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would have recommended the most appropriate method without constituting environmental 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 equilibrium of the ecosystem.

“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, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health had on April 8 confirmed the outbreak of Cholera in Southern Ijaw LGA, which has claimed over 25 lives.

Igwele stated that the State has deployed epidemiologists and acquired vaccines to tackle the menace.

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