Experts show concern over environmental degradation in Plateau
Experts have expressed deep concern over the activities of illegal miners in Plateau State, which posed security risks to residents and motorists.
They say the miners have continued to widen gullies and mining ponds close to the main roads in all the local governments and no conscious attempts are being made by the authorities to prevent such reckless acts.
For instance, recently an artificial stream overflew its banks unto the narrow bridge and caused the drowning and death of a family of five in the West of Mines, Jos North Local Government Area.
An environmentalist, Mohammed Babale Kolo, said that environmental degradation dates back to the colonial era when the colonialists occupied the Nigerian territory and the challenges have remained in the state to this 21st Century due to the unchecked activities of miners.
“Even now, illegal mining is still ongoing particularly in Barkin Ladi, Jos South, Jos East, Wase and Kanam local government areas of the state. Population growth, expansion of agricultural activities, migration of people from rural to urban centres for white collar jobs, introduction of tarred roads in place of rail which brought about the breaking of stones, resulting in air pollution as a result of congestion, are all the negative consequences,” he said.
The aftermath of the mining activities includes cancer and other epidemic diseases from the ponds created as no conscious effort was made for remediation in the area.
According to him, another big environmental challenge is the activity of quarrying (stone breaking) by some people, especially women who work for the numerous construction companies dealing in at broken stones in the state. The emission of dangerous dust and destruction of the aesthetic value of the natural rocks that beautify the environment are the direct consequences.
On how to remedy the situation, Kolo stressed that the exposed lands should be covered with sand while trees should be planted to replace those that had been cut and some of the ponds created as a result should be converted to irrigation for farming and water supply.
He suggested that refuse should be recycled instead of dumping it indiscriminately while there should be a law of afforestation to encourage the planting of trees should be pursued vigorously by government to reclaim the environment while heavy automobiles should be checked. He added that vehicles, especially fairly used ones, that emit fumes should be banned from the roads to stop cancer and other airborne diseases.
The Director, Environmental Assessment Inspectorate, State’s Ministry of Environment and Mineral Development, Mr. James Adikaba, a Conservationist, listed mining activities as an environmental challenge in the state.
“This started to be noticed in the 1960s. In Plateau State, you will see that the land has been devastated due to mining activities during the colonial era. We also have other land degradation issue, which is known to the whole world – climate change. But it is very obvious. Rainfall is very erratic now, it is not constant as before.
As remedies, he said that felling of trees should be checked, adding that in terms of road construction, government has to regulate the type of construction that should be undertaken by any company, while the conventional type of agriculture should be adopted that can reduce land or environmental degradation.
Adikaba also suggested that the emission of carbon-monoxide into the atmosphere pollutes the environment and contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. He stressed that cars are constitutes an avenue for the emission of such dangerous gases that affects the ozone layers, adding that the ozone layer is very important to human existence because without it, there will be no life.
At the Plateau State Environmental Protection and Sanitation Agency (PEPSA) the General Manager, Mr. Christopher L. Betai, said that PEPSA is an agency under the State Ministry of Environment and Mineral Development, charged with the responsibility to address such issues.