*Arrests two managers

By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo

Akwa Ibom State Government has ordered that ‘Golden Tripod International Limited O2 Production’ Company located in Ikot Ebido Oku community, along Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo shut down its operation with immediate effect.

The directive was given to the leadership of the Chinese Company on Thursday when the State Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals, in collaboration with Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Environment, and the State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA) visited the place.

Speaking during the oversight visit, the Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Mr. Charles Udoh, said the company has violated the environmental standards which is in the concurrent list of the State Government and also endangers lives of workers and residents of the area through its activities.

Udoh also explained that since the company started operation in 2018, it has not reached out to the Ministry about their operations in the state as contained in the unauthorized Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the company.

He disclosed that two managers of the company have been arrested and arraigned, and therefore warned other Companies operating in the State and violatating the existing environment standards to retrace their steps.

Asked why they were attacked by the company workers during the visit, Udoh noted that he had even sent his team to the company several times following reports and complaints from the community, concerning activities of the company, and the company refused the team entry into their premises.

His words: “We did not go their to shut down the place. You don’t just shut down a place like that, we follow due process. The residents, and Community leaders have sent countless petitions, reports and all that about the company’s activities.

“And I had sent my team to the company about eight times, and they refused them entry to the premises. That is why I had to lead the team personally to go there on Thursday.
Officials of Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency also went there they refused them entry.

“Also, the State House of Assembly invited the owners of the place but they ignored the state House of Assembly. So we decided that look, we should go and find out what is going on there. So we went there. At first they denied us entry and we had to force our way in.

“Then we demanded to meet the leadership of the place, they came out and while we were still asking them questions about their document, the ordered the workers to started attacking us- they became violent”

On what the company produces, the Commissioner who likened the place to a slave camp stressed, “It is horrible. They produce break-pad for Tricycle (Keke NAPEP) and Motorcycles, and they use Aluminum. You can imagine melting Aluminum in the heart of the town. It is injurious to health.

“So we arrested and detained the two men managing the place, the Managing Director, Mr Lin Zi and his Marketing Manager, Mr. Peter Yuan and we arraigned them Friday. We have ordered them to shut down the place, and if they disobey that order, it is another offense”

On his part , the deputy Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Mark Esset noted that the company must remain shut pending when the company could provide the necessary documents authorising their operations in the State.

Even the residents of the area who spoke to some newsmen immediately after the state government visited the place lamented that since the company commenced their operations in the are they always observe dark coloured rain water with black soot emission.

Some regretted that the protest and attack by the company workers on government team over the decision to shut down the place, points to the fact that they were completely
ignorant that they are working in hazardous condition.

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