By Paul Efiong Abuja
Dr Thaddeus Thompson, the Chief Executive Officer, Safe Water Energy and Environmental Restoration, (SWEER) Limited, an NGO, has raised concern over abandoned mining pits across the country.
Thompson, who spoke yesterday in Abuja,said the situation had continued to claim lives.
He said the situation which was caused by mostly unauthorised persons was also polluting the environment, hinted that, the emitted gases from the abandoned mining pits in the atmosphere causes some health problems to humans, animal and plants in the host communities.
The environmentalist said there was urgent need for government’s intervention.
Thompson urged governments at all levels to implement the Mineral and Mining Act 2007 to tackle the menace and protect communities from further degradation.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 replaced the Minerals and Mining Act, No. 34 of 1999.
He said that if punishment was meted out to those caught illegally excavating the ground in search of solid minerals it would serve as a deterrent to others.
The environmentalist advised that all abandoned pits discovered to have become toxic should be condoned off with brick walls to stop human and animals from having access to them.
“Reclamation of neglected mining sites should be done by companies that have modern technology and expertise to do the job in order to prevent more deaths and devastation to the environment.
“It is very disheartening to see large excavations by some illegal miners who endanger the lives of the host communities and animals with their illicit activities.
“These pits containing dangerous elements such as mercury have become toxic and led to the death of many people, including infants in the affected communities,” he said.
According to him, some children are now blind, paralysed, while some women are barren and others suffer miscarriages, respiratory diseases on daily basis.
He said that research had shown that somea members of the host communities had had renal diseases and reproduction problems.
The SWEER chief executive officer explained further that people in such areas were highly susceptible to all kinds of environmental problems particularly during raining seasons.
He said this was because water from the pits flowed to farmlands, water sources and residential areas.
“Some even bath with this contaminated water and contract skin diseases, while others who do not have knowledge of its effects use the water for laundry and cooking,” he added.
Thompson said SWEER had been committed to salvaging the situation in its own little way to ensure that the environment was safe for habitation and productivity.
“We, together with our partners, are looking forward to collaborate with government to assist the affected communities in states like Niger, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Kogi, among others,” he said.