ILLEGAL GAS REFILLING STATIONS: OGUNJI SEALS STATION VOWS TO SEAL MORE

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In its bid to clamp down on illegal cooking gas stations in Abia State as well as restore sanity in the environment, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Solomon Ogunji and his team of officials have resealed-off and illegal refilling station in Umuahia.

Speaking during an unscheduled visit to an illegal cooking gas refilling centre located at the POWA SHOPS along Finbarrs by Bende Road, Umuahia where the Ministry has earlier sealed off with a court order but noticed that the owner has reopened it in disregard to the court order, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Solomon Ogunji wondered why the operator of the gas centre, Mr. Michael Uwaezoke unsealed the station that was sealed by a valid court order, thereby violating decision of a court of competent jurisdiction.

According to Dr. Ogunji, government would report to the court on the development for further legal action. He frowned at the activities of all illegal gas operators in the State and disclosed that government would soon set up a task force to monitor and clamp down on all forms of illegal trade and businesses in the State.

Contributing, the Director, Pollution Control and Environmental Health, Abia State Ministry of Environment, Mr. Ikechi Ukaegbu said that both abatement notice and subsequent court order were issued against the operator because the activities were inimical to human health and against the Abia State Environmental Law. He described the situation where a man uses host pipe to refill gas manually from one cylinder to the other as unfortunate, adding that the activity is unhealthy and dangerous to health. He maintained that there is a possibility of fire sparking off in a twinkling of an eye in addition to the flames the people around there inhale which has negative health consequences.

Narrating their ordeal some traders and residents of Umuahia,including Chidera Constance and Pricilia Anane who do business around the POWA SHOPS along Finbars Road, comended Abia State government, particularly the Ministry of Environment for coming to their rescue by sealing off the shop being used for illegal gas refill.

They lamented how the gas flames which emmanate from the neighbour’s shop affect their health negatively to the level that they have been on serious medical attention. The victims said they have pleaded with the operator severally to relocate the business all to no avail.

According to them, their eair complaints to the LGA health authority have not yielded any fruit but expressed joy that from the day Ministry of Environment sealed off the place, they started to heave a sigh of relief. They equally were surprised that the man reopened the station few days after it was sealed.

When accosted for interview, the operator, Mr. Michael Uwaezoke refused to speak to the Press.

As at the time of this report, the station has been resealed off by the Ministry of Environment.

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