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Kano State shuts down rice mills over pollution

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Kano state ministry of Environment has directed the immediate closure of Tiamin Rice Limited in the state.

The ” Notice for closing Order”, signed by director pollution at the state ministry of environment, Engr. Mustapha Mohammad, obtained by The Guardian, cited “air pollution that aggravates coronavirus patients” as a major reason for the closure order.

But the management of the Rice mill has insisted that government claims on air pollution are unfounded and unjustifiable.

Reacting to the closure order in a statement, deputy managing director Tiamin Rice, Alh. Aliyu Ibrahim explained that government unilateral decision to shut the 320-metric tonnes daily capacity plant did not follow any known technical procedure or regulations.

Aliyu worried that such a deliberate attempt to shut one of the leading rice mills in Kano may jeopardize source of livelihood of 223 workers on its payroll and worsen the alarming rate of unemployment in the country.

“The management of Tiamin Rice Limited has received with utter shock and dismay the decision of the Kano State Ministry of Environment to shut down our company over frivolous allegations bordering on alleged air pollution,” Aliyu said.

“The decision of the state government to shut down the company was conveyed to us in a “Notice for Closing Order” dated April 18, 2020, citing an unfounded allegation of air pollution that aggravates Coronavirus patients. According to the notice, the government took the decision, following complaints of air pollution “with aggravate Coronavirus patients.”

Aliyu continued, ” To set the records straight, there are nearly 30 rice mills operating in Kano State, but our company is the ONLY one affected by the order. The fact of the matter is that neither state nor federal health officials, nor Ministry of Environment inspectors came to our premises to take any samples of the said pollution.

“Although the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), which we are a member, has been exempted from the lockdown order by the state government, we nevertheless halted our production for one week to put in robust internal measures against the spread Coronavirus.

“Since halting production on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, our workers have been on break and our engines and boilers switched off. When and how did the ministry arrive at the premise of “pollution that aggravates Coronavirus patients” when our plant is deactivated?

“We view orchestrated plan to close our 320-tonne plant as economic sabotage against President Muhammadu Buhari administration, who in his recent speech assured Nigerians that food processing, distribution and retail companies would be exempted from the lockdown”.

Aliyu said while the management seeks litigation against government action, he assured esteem distributors not to panic over this temporary setback while reassuring them of 600-tonne capacity plant that will soon be unveiled in Bauchi.


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