Residents of FCT community cry to Wike over ‘life threatening rock blasting’

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Some occupants and property owners in the Guzape area of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in Abuja, have sent a ‘Save our Soul’ to the Minister, Nyesom Wike and relevant government agencies over what they described as ‘life threatening blasting of rocks’ in the area.

The residents lamented that the blast is being carried out by Gilmor Construction Limited against laid laws and regulations and a pending court case.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday on behalf of residents of the district, a former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba, who acknowledged that “the purpose of the blasting is for the construction of road for the development of Guzape District”, pointed out that “it is only the living that can enjoy amenities”.

Achuba while noting that Nigeria is a member of the International Treaty and Conventions on explosives and blast technique, submitted that Gilmor alongside her foreign nationals ought to have been accustomed with the law.

“For about three months, we noticed with tremor incessant blasting of rocks very close to our residential accommodations contrary to statutory regulations governing blasting of rocks either for construction or mining exercise.

“At any point, the blasting is done, the whole residential houses within the vicinity of the blasting site shake thereby injuring the integrity of these properties and the life of our wives and children staying within these premises,” he stated.

He added that the construction company failed to heed caution from the police that it observe regulatory guidelines for blasting.

The residents further claimed that when some of them approached the court for a restraining order to stop “further damage and innocuous blasting, at the verge of the court granting this order, we discovered various extraneous interest building up thereby introducing legal technicalities delaying the course of justice.

“The suit within this period has witnessed three adjournments after days of delay before being assigned to a judge.

“The case has been adjourned till April 16, 2024”.

The residents who noted that while it is their prayers for development to come to Guzape district, maintained that such development should not be at the expense of their lives.

Citing Section 17(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution which provided for the dignity of the human person, the residents asked: “Of what importance is road construction when the human beings that supposed to stay therein are dead or living in fear of heart failure sequel to incessant earth tremor blasting?”

They claimed that by going ahead with the blasting, Gilmor Construction Ltd is infringing on their fundamental human right to life under Section 33 of the Constitution.

“It should be noted that, what Gilmor is doing within the site falls within the meaning of “act of blasting” under Section 43 relating to interpretation of words. It is very unfortunate that Gilmor as required by these Regulations had failed to use environment friendly technology which provide a minimum harm to the environment and human health in all the blasting that Guzape district had witnessed.

“Consequently, the act and negligence of Gilmor offends the provisions of Section 12 which controls permissible noise, where there is an emission of excessive noise by the activities of a person, such conduct is punishable under the provisions of National Environmental (Noise Standard and Control Regulations 2009).

“Finally, as a construction company Gilmor is bound by the provisions of National Environmental (Construction Sector) Regulations 2011 which provides for guidelines to be obeyed in relations to the health, welfare and safety of life and property during construction exercise.

“Section 16 of the Regulations provides that “Any operator whose activities involve blasting shall do so in accordance with Schedule ix to these Regulations, hence Gilmor has failed to observe the rules in paragraphs (1)(2)(3)(5), Gilmor has failed to ensure use of appropriate blasting design and procedure.

“In view of all these infractions and flagrant disrespect to the rule of law and statutory regulations, we are calling on NESREA, Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Federal Ministry of Environment and FCDA to forthwith stop these incessant hazardous blasting which is injurious to our lives and properties.

“It is only the living that can enjoy amenities. Nigeria is a member of International Treaty and Conventions on explosives and blasting technique, during the last World Conference on explosives and blasting in 2022 in Netherlands, emphasis was laid on international best practice, which Gilmor with her Foreign Nationals should be accustomed with,” the residents added.

However when newsmen visited Gilmor’s head office in Abuja for reaction to the issue, one of the top officials of the company, who bluntly refused to identify himself, simply said that they don’t talk to the media.

He threatened to invite the police to arrest the journalists if they persist in the mission.

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