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

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Some tenants and property owners in the Guzape area of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in Abuja, have issued a ‘Save our Soul’ message to Minister Nyesom Wike and relevant government agencies in response to what they characterized as ‘life-threatening blasting of rocks’ in the region.

Residents expressed concern that Gilmor Construction Limited is carrying out the blast in violation of existing laws and regulations, as well as an ongoing court case.

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

Achuba, noting that Nigeria is a signatory of the International Treaty and Conventions on Explosives and Blast Technique, said that Gilmor and her foreign nationals should have been familiar with the legislation.

“For almost three months, we witnessed tremors and incessant blasting of rocks extremely close to our residential accommodations, in violation of statutory regulations governing rock blasting for building 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 went on to say.

He further claimed that the building company ignored police warnings to follow blasting regulations.

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

“During this time frame, the matter was adjourned three times after days of delay before being assigned to a judge.

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

Residents stated that, while they hope for progress in the Guzape district, such development should not come at the expense of their lives.

Citing Section 17(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, which guaranteed human dignity, the residents questioned: “Of what importance is road construction when the human beings who are supposed to live therein are dead or in fear of heart failure as a result of incessant earth tremor blasting?”

They alleged that by proceeding with the blasting, Gilmor Construction Ltd violates their fundamental human right to life under Section 33 of the Constitution.

“It should be highlighted that what Gilmor is doing on the site constitutes a “act of blasting” under Section 43, which deals with word interpretation. It is sad that Gilmor, as mandated by these Regulations, failed to apply environmentally friendly technology that caused as little harm to the environment and human health as possible during all of the blasting that occurred in the Guzape district.

“As a result, Gilmor’s act and negligence violate the provisions of Section 12, which controls permissible noise; where a person’s activities emit excessive noise, such conduct is punishable under the provisions of the National Environmental (Noise Standard and Control Regulations 2009).

“Finally, as a construction business, Gilmor is bound by the rules of the National Environmental (Construction Sector) Regulations 2011, which establish guidelines for the health, welfare, and safety of people and property during the construction exercise.

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

“In light of all of these violations and flagrant disregard for the rule of law and statutory regulations, we are urging NESREA, the Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals Development, the Federal Ministry of Environment, and the FCDA to immediately halt the hazardous blasting that is endangering our lives and property.

“Only the living can enjoy comforts. Nigeria is a signatory to international treaties and conventions on explosives and blasting techniques.

At the most recent World Conference on Explosives and Blasting in the Netherlands in 2022, emphasis was placed on international best practices, which Gilmor and her foreign nationals should be familiar with, according to the residents.

However, when journalists visited Gilmor’s headquarters in Abuja to inquire about the situation, one of the company’s top managers, who refused to identify himself, merely stated that they do not speak to the media.

He threatened to have the journalists arrested if they persisted in their objective.

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