The Bayelsa State Government on Wednesday made a passionate appeal to
the Federal Ministry of Environment, agencies and other well-meaning
organizations to join its efforts at combating coastal erosion and
other environmental disasters ravaging the state.
Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (Rtd) made the
appeal, while speaking with newsmen shortly after inspecting a
landslide site at Okoloba Community in the Kolokuma/Opokuma local
government area of the state.
Lamenting the loss of houses and other valuable properties to the
disaster, Rear Admiral John Jonah urged the Federal Government to
participate more effectively in the protection of the Bayelsa
environment, which he noted, has suffered serious degradation owing to erosion and oil exploration activities.
According to the Deputy Governor, several communities in the state,
including Koluama, which had been washed away by ocean surge and
coastal erosion are now in their new settlements.
His words: “There are lots of erosion sites in Bayelsa State; this is
just one of them. We have been reporting about how the ocean surge has
been washing off our communities including Koluama. There is need for
the Federal Ministry of Environment to look into Bayelsa case more
seriously now with this wake up call that we have got today. We shall
inform the Federal Government on the need for them to participate more
effectively in the protection of our environment.”
He sympathized with the victims, assuring that government would do
everything within its reach to provide them with some temporary
relief, while proffering long-standing solutions to the problem.
Rear admiral John Jonah, however, used the opportunity to caution
people of the state to be more safety conscious and take proactive
measures by avoiding development of houses and other facilities in
areas that are prone to natural disasters.
On the issue of providing shoreline protection for the community, the
Deputy Governor said, “I understand there is a record that, the
government had planned to provide shore protection here. We will look
at that and see where the plan stalled and put pressure as much as we
can to see that that project comes back to light.”
Giving eyewitness accounts, some of the victims who are indigenes of
Okoloba community, Mr. Titus Yeigbagha and Chief Imomoemi Officer
said, the incident occurred thrice at about 8am, 1pm and 6pm
respectively on Monday this week.
Mr. Yeigbagha who lamented that property worth several millions of
naira including six houses were wiped away by the slide, called on the
government to come to the aid of the victims and the Okoloba community
by providing shoreline protection for the area.
Also speaking, the Governor’s Special Representative in
Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area, Mr. Iselema Gbaranbiri
recounted a similar incident that occurred in the community in 2008,
2013 and 2015 and appealed for the urgent attention of the government.
The Deputy Governor was accompanied on the assessment visit by the
Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite,
his Budget and Planning counterpart, Mr. Joshua Ongore, Chief of
Staff, Government House, Rt. Hon. Talford Ongolo and Chairman of the
Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency, (BYSEMA), Dr. Zedekiah Izu.