By Bon Peters,Port Harcourt
The Rotary Club of Port Harcourt ECO says it is poised to ensure a clean, healthy and sustainable environment devoid of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury cadmium and arsenic.
This was the thrust of a sensitization exercise embarked upon by the Rotary Club, Port Harcourt ECO, Thursday at the New Layout Market in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Rivers State.
Addressing, the traders and executive in the presence of officials from both the ministries of Health and that Environment, the President, Rotary club, Port Harcourt ECO, Rtn Dr. Anthony Ikpor said the essence of the sanitation exercise is that “our immediate environment, is essential to our general well-being” adding that sanitation is a totality of maintaining and sustaining a hygienic living. ”
Ikpor went further to posit that sanitation also involved an environment that was free of human, industrial and other wastes capable of causing various forms of Diseases that threaten as well as affect human health and that was according to him, what Rotary Port Harcourt Eco is advocating for.
He noted that “in our daily attempt to survive, we have severely impacted on Environment” as according to him, such survival has resulted in generating hazardous elements in biological, chemical, physical and sociological conditions which are counterproductive to a clean and healthy environment.
Rtn, Ikpor, an astute Banking Executive, Environmental protection advocate and a business management consultant observed that “to clean and maintain a serene environment becomes our primary gap that Rotary Club, Port Harcourt ECO is here to address”
While reminding the traders of the New Layout Market of dire consequences of not carrying out proper environmental sanitation and waste management, he added that it was not difficult to ascertain that inappropriate waste disposal encourages flies, mosquitoes, rodents and stray animals that spread diseases.
He went further to posit that open defecation, improper waste collection and disposal were increasingly worrisome and detrimental to the traders’ health even as he added that Rotary Club Port Harcourt ECO was on a robust awareness advocacy and sanitation campaign to the occupants of the New Layout Market on the need to clean their business environment through sanitation.
He therefore, called on the Rivers State Ministry of Environment,and Rivers state Waste management Agency (RIWAMA) to collaborate with Rotary Club Port Harcourt ECO to drive and sustain the process across Port Harcourt City, Council, even as he charged the media to be part of this process by educating the citizens on the need for a clean and healthy environment.
Also Speaking, the Rivers state Commissioner of Health, Dr Mrs Adeze Ureh, who was represented by the Director Environmental Health, Services Chetachuku Bestman Akachuku, applauded, Rotary club Port Harcourt ECO for the environmental sanitation advocacy. Dr Ureh said that the issue of environmental sanitation is very important and encompasses homes, offices, schools, public places including the Markets.
Dr Ureh who bemoaned the inappropriate disposal of non biodegradable wastes like the plastics which she said would cause stagnation of waters and also breed mosquitoes which are careers of diseases said “such materials could stay upto 100 years and when they are not properly disposed could cause stagnation of waters and when such happens, it breeds mosquitoes and other harmful toxic chemicals which could in turn cause some health hazards.
She stressed that right from the homes we engage in environmental clean up without knowing it, saying “when you wake up in the morning, you brush your teeth, arrange your bed, you sweep your houses.
“When you go to the market, you buy some vegetables, meat and you wash them because you do not know how healthy those selling them are, you are automatically engaging in Environmental sanitation “Adding if you subject human beings to a medical checkups, in hospitals, you are equally sanitizing the body,” she said.
Insisting that “it is a good idea for the society to always make it a daily habit to clean their environment, dispose appropriately to ensure a healthy living.”
“Our environment must always be kept clean, environmental sanitation should be a daily routine.” She emphasized.
In the same vein, the Commissioner for Environment Rivers state, Engr Austin Ben Chioma, has called for collaborative efforts among private and public sectors in Rivers state to ensure a clean and healthy environment.
Speaking through the Deputy Director, in the Rivers state Ministry of Environment Nnedam Morgan who represented him at the Environmental Sanitation exercise, organized by Rotary club Port Harcourt ECO in conjunction with (RIWAMA) Chioma said “Man’s open surrounding is the environment while sanitation is the cleaning of man’s open surrounding”
He added that the Ministry is advocating for more collaborative efforts with the private sector to ensure a clean and healthy environment for Rivers people.
Continuing, Chioma said, this is what the Ministry should always be doing even as he noted that what Rotary Club Port Harcourt ECO is doing is very important while urging people to key into it. According to him, you can only function properly when you are healthy as a dirty environment would always cause diseases which would affect the person’ s performance. Saying ” you can only come to the market to sell if you are healthy”
He promised a full packaged lecture on environmental sanitation any other time the exercise would take place.
Earlier in her welcome remarks, the metron of the Rivers state markets Association and former Woman leader, New Layout Market, Borikiri Mrs Gloria Apakawari has praised Rotary club Port Harcourt ECO for coming to the Market.
Mrs Apakawari who traced the existence of the Market to the 1970s insisted that the market was the first major Market in Rivers state and is known for its cleanliness.
She said, despite having a two time infano that engulfed the Market, the traders have remained committed and determined to survive.
She regretted the challenges facing the traders such as lack of amenities in the market, reduced patronage, absence of security lights and good drinking water due to the leaking storage water tank, dangers posed by cracked walls of the market and the government inability to fully complete the market among others.
She then called on the Port Harcourt City Council and the Rivers state Government to come to their aid while thanking the Rotary Club Port Harcourt ECO for donating some waste disposal items such as waste nylon bags, waste bins, rakes, spades among others which she said was the first of its kind even as she enjoined other organisations in Rivers State to emulate what Rotary Club Port Harcourt ECO is doing.
The Chairperson, Rotary club Port Harcourt ECO, environmental sanitation and sensitization advocacy committee, Dr Vivian Ozokwe says her members are bothered about what is happening in the environment, even as she commended the Traders for keeping the Market clean.
Ozokwe said keeping the environment dirty comes with consequences which she traced to diseases like Typhoid, Cholera, Cough, Diarrhea among others.
She noted that indiscriminate disposal of refuse was not good but was quick to point out that she was satisfied with the level of participation among traders in their efforts to keep the Market clean.
She however, advised that they should continue in that spirit as the benefits of a healthy environment are enormous.
On her vote of thanks, to mark the end of the event, Sele May Aso, an Asst. Director, in the Ministry of Environment, Rivers state and also a member, Rotary club Port Harcourt ECO, said she was happy with the successes recorded in the attendance even as she used the opportunity to thank the commissioners of Health and that Environment and their representatives for attending despite their tight schedules.
She also praised the Traders who left their business to be part of the programme and advised that they should make use of the advice given them and continue in their drive to ensure a clean and healthy market stressing that her club will continue to partner with them and assist them when the need arises.
The high point of the event was the official hand over of some waste disposal items donated by Rotary Club, Port Harcourt ECO to the New Layout Market executive