Fear of cholera outbreak has gripped Ukwu-Nzu community in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state, following the suspected activities of the coal mining in the area.
When South-South PUNCH visited two rivers (Odo river and Ojokpa river) in Ukwu-Nzu community, it was observed that the water in the area has been polluted as a result mining in the neighboring Ugboba community.
It was further observed that the water is muddy and brownish in colour while the vegetation in the affected rivers has all changed colour from the usual green.
An indigene and a community leader, Mr Kaikenechukwu Okolie, lamented the situation the community is going through over the activity of coal mining.
He said, “We have been facing this challenge since over two months, nothing has been done about it. We have been making frantic efforts to reach out to the government to help us.
“We have reached out to the commissioner for environment and the chairman of Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state.
“We also reached out to the coal mining company, Mosra Energy and they visited the rivers but till now, we have not hear from them over two months.
“Nobody is against the coal mining in our neighboring community, we are only concerned about pollution in our rivers. As I speak to you now, our people cannot use the water to process cassava because of the pollution.
“Our people are afraid of using the water because there maybe an outbreak of epidemics. So, we are begging government to come to our aid before people will be dying”.
“The river cannot accommodate aquatic activity now, not alone for drinking, we are calling on Governor Sheriff Oborevweri as a matter of urgency to address the situation before people will start dying as a result of cholera.and other diseases.
The State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Jamani Ejiro who confirmed the situation on Wednesday in Asaba, said he got the information in December 2023.
“I got the information about the activities of the coal mining last year and I wanted to visit the site before the climate change issue.
“We will visit the site next week to get first hand information because the MORE agenda of Governor Sheriff Oborevweri is to protect the people, so we will not want somebody destroy our environment or waterway.
“We will go into action now that we have been reliably informed that there is water pollution in the community so as to save life”
Responding to the water pollution, the Resource Manager, Mosra energy limited, Mr. Amed Ali said the colouration of the river is a result of NEWMAP erosion control in the community years back and not the activities of coal mining.
He said, “Regards to the purported colouration of the rivers, our coal mining process does not generate any waste.
“When the issue happened, we also took our time to carry out our own independent investigation and discovered that some years back, the NEWMAP erosion control channel drainage to the river as the only way to avoid recurring erosion.
“The red sand was part of the material that was used and they did erosion control to a level and stopped. So, during raining season, it move laterite to the river and colour the river. It is the laterite that stocked on the way that is colouring the river not our mining activities”