The Delta Task Force on Environment says it will begin the full enforcement of the environmental law on October 23 with the demolition of illegal structures in Asaba, the state capital, and its environ.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the task force comprised the Ministries of Information and Environment, Asaba Capital Territory Development Agency (ACTDA), Waste Management Board and State Orientation Agency (SOA)
Briefing newsmen on the activities of the task force on Monday in Asaba, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said the group was created by the state government to tackle the issue of sanitation in the state.
“This task force is made up of strategic bodies relevant to the maintenance of the environment because it is said that ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’.
“It is a government initiative involving the entire citizenry and designed to ensure that people keep their environment clean,” Aniagwu said.
He further warned that those who flouted the environmental law would be made to face the full weight of the law.
He said that the media briefing was to sensitise the people about the new direction the government was heading in the management of the environment to ensure cleanliness.
Also, Mrs. Joan Mrakpor, the Director-General of ACTDA, said that it was agreed at a stakeholders’ meeting that enforcement of the environmental law would commence after 21 days.
“We decided that it was proper to dialogue with the stakeholders, so we sent out invitations to business owners, among others, and the meeting was well attended.
She tasked business operators in the state to keep their environment clean to ensure good health and a conducive business area.
Mr. Chris Onogba, the Commissioner for Environment, said that there would be no sacred cow in the enforcement of the law.
“We want to leave Delta in a better position than we met it; we want to ensure that the state does not depend only on oil as its mainstay and source of revenue.
“If we think about diversification, then tourism will play a major role and as we know, tourism cannot thrive in a dirty environment.
“As from Monday next week, our approach is going to be holistic. We will pull down all the shanties and we are doing massive evacuation of wastes across the state.
“So, everyone must play a role to salvage the environment and we must all put our ideas together to have a cleaner environment,” he said.
He said that the essence of the advocacy was to make residents take ownership of the programme to ensure a cleaner and safer environment.
“What we are doing is not limited to Asaba. All the shanties and structures that deface the environment and buildings without government approval in any part of the state shall be brought down,” Onogba said.
On his part, the Director-General of SOA, Mr. Eugene Uzum, said that the people needed a re-orientation to enable them to do the right thing to ensure a cleaner environment.
Uzum said that the agency had commenced massive public orientation to persuade the people to take a clean environment as a lifestyle.
The Chairman, Waste Management Board, Mr. Emma Chinye, said that this was the first time the state government assembled a task force to tackle the issue of environmental sanitation.
Chinye said that already, the board recently arrested, prosecuted and got one Mrs. Moseuratu Omotosho and Mr. Zubaru Abubakar (a truck pusher) convicted for indiscriminate dumping of waste.
He said: “Last week, we arrested Abubakar and he took us to Omotosho, who sent him to throw away the refuse.
“They were both arrested and taken to a mobile court, where they were convicted and she (Omotosho) paid N35,000.”
Chinye said that the truck pusher was currently serving two months imprisonment at the Ogwashi-Uku prison because he could not pay the fine.