A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Urban-Rural Environmental Defenders (U-RED) has decried the flagrant disregard of Mineral and Mining Act 2007 and Mineral and Mining Regulations 2011 by quarry and mining companies which he said has exposed host communities to social, economic, health and environmental risks, especially in the residential areas.
He advised communities to insist on international best practices in blasting and extracting rock and resist the use of crude equipment such as explosives for mining. He lamented that the use of explosives has resulted in flying rocks which led to the death of several people carrying out legitimate business around the mining sites.
The Director U-RED, God’s power Martins who made this assertion during an enlightenment campaign at Pyakasa community, Airport Road, Abuja frowned at indiscriminate and unsafe rock blasting in residential areas which he said has exposed the communities to multifaceted dangers.
“The deposit of hills/rocks in our communities supposed to be a blessing in many ways. However, this has become far from the case. Host communities are made to face so many hazards as a result of unsafe mining of rocks.
“Host communities are confronted daily with shocks, dust, tailing wash off with poisonous substances such as lead poison that washed into streams, the environment and blown into air; reduction of life expectancy, loss of minerals found in the rock that could turn the fortune of the community.
He warned that continued rock blasting could lead to land slide/earthquake that can wipe out the entire community and beyond. He disclosed that there are noticeable cracks on the walls of buildings around quarry sites, cautioning that if care is not taken, it can lead to collapse of buildings.
He further draws attention to the removal of hills/rocks which serve as wind breakers adding that some of the hills/rocks serve as aesthetics and protective cover for the communities but are now going into extinction.
Apart from the above, he noted that nothing is being done to stop the noise, air, dust, water, and land pollution going on during rock mining activities. Similarly, he observed that animals are displaced by vibrations/shocks and sound of heavy equipment and trucks; arable lands for agriculture are taken by quarry sites, roads, compacted soil, abandoned wastes and deforestation. There is also the case of abandoned deep craters and deep holes that litter many quarry sites.
God’s power urged host communities to set up Community Ecological Defence and Action Committees (CEDAC) for mobilisation; insist on looking at the agreement the companies signed with the authorities so as to ensure that the interest of the communities are well catered for; use available legal instruments to push relevant government agencies and violators to action to halt the environmental injustice and prevent environmental injustice.
He also urged them to take pictures and use social media to drive home their message and tell their stories to the world.
In his response on behalf of the community, the Etsu Pyakasa community promised to take action and ensure that the interest of the community is adequately protected. He thanked U-RED for the enlightenment and promised to protect their environment.