Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has bemoaned the devastation caused by erosion in several communities across the state.
Governor Diri who visited the ravaged Obogoro community in Yenagoa Local Government Area on Wednesday evening urged the Federal Government to release the funds meant for ecological disaster to aid the state’s erosion control measures.
Senator Diri, who spoke to journalists after inspecting the Saint John’s Primary School, which had been washed off by erosion, directed the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure and that of Environment to immediately commence remedial work to salvage the situation in the community.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, in a statement, quoted him as saying that for the first time under his administration, the state had a sub-head for erosion control in its budget.
On the activities of sand dredgers compounding the woes of erosion-threatened communities, Diri also directed the Ministry of Environment to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before permitting commercial dredging activities.
He said his government was poised to implement laws passed by the House of Assembly on commercial dredging of sand.
We have the Ecological Fund managed by the Federal Government and a lot of these challenges at the state level we cannot handle alone. So I call on the Federal Government to also support the state government by releasing funds from the Ecological Fund and from the Natural Resources accounts to assist the state government in trying to handle most of these challenges.
I commiserate with the Obogoro people and share their pain. But there is hope because I just directed the Ministry of Works to immediately swing into action by opening up the natural canal. When that is done, we will also dredge to sand-fill this eroded area.
The only thing you can see that indicates there was a primary school here is that pillar. I have also directed the Commissioner for Education to preserve it. Let it be known that there was a primary school here and the river has eaten our land.
There are several other communities affected by erosion and you are aware that it is the first time in a budget of the state government that we have a sub-head for erosion control.
As a government, we are poised to implement laws passed by our House of Assembly concerning dredging. We must have an Environmental Impact Assessment report. People cannot just embark on dredging for commercial purposes with what we have experienced across the land.
Earlier, while commissioning a six-classroom block built by the member representing Yenagoa Constituency 1 in the House of Assembly, Oforji Oboku, the governor lauded him for drawing government’s attention to the plight of the Obogoro people.
He also announced the building of an additional six-classroom block for the school.
He said due to the priority his government placed on education, six new secondary schools would be built in Yenagoa with one of them sited in Obogoro.
The governor equally approved the deployment of more teachers and construction of the road leading to the school.
Also speaking, Hon. Oforji Oboku said for over a year, the people of the community were denied education due to the erosion that washed off the school.
He said as their representative, he had to intervene to build another befitting classroom block in a new location.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the conferment of a chieftaincy title on the governor as the Osio 1 of Obogoro, which means “Soul of the People” by the Ebenibe of Epie/Atissa Kingdom, King Godwin Igodo