14 local govts in Rivers operate illegal refineries
• as state plans to establish modular refineries as solution
The Rivers State Government has declared that illegal refineries popularly known as kpofire are operational in 14 out of the 23 local governments areas of the state even as it plans to set up modular refineries in parts of the state to discourage the practice.
Deputy governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, disclosed the plans on Friday while speaking during an interactive meeting with leaders of Community Development Committees (CDC) in the state on the advantages of modular refineries.
Harry-Banigo said: “We need you to come on board this vision. We need you to buy into this policy. We want those involved in artisanal refining to know that we are doing all we can to accommodate them.
“The governor wants the best for the people of Rivers State. We want our people to be gainfully employed in a venture that will not be injurious to our environment.
“We called because you are CDC Chairmen and your committee is about development. This is an innovation, it is not something that is happening every day.
“We are ready to encourage them, we are not arresting them. We are ready to assist them to form cooperative or cluster and we will register them. After meeting with you, we will meet with federal agencies, NNPC, DPR and NCMDB.”
Lamenting the extent of damage by illegal refining activities in the state, Commissioner for Environment, Dr Igbiks Tamuno, revealed that illegal bunkering and refining activities are going on in communities in no fewer than 14 local government areas in the state.
Tamuno expressed regrets that an illegal activity involving about 2,000 people have put the lives of over 7 million people of the state at risk of cancer.
He said: “We have called you because you are important stakeholders in these issues. Issue of kpofire is with us and those involved are sons and daughters of Rivers State. The development is causing a lot of devastation in the environment and the health of the people of Rivers State.
“Kpofire is operational in at least in 14 local governments. We have soot everywhere. While few people smile to the bank, others are suffering health-wise. In a few years to come, there will be lots of cancer-related health challenges in the state. As the government, we are concerned about the health of our people.
“We are here to provide a viable alternative for a win-win situation. As a government, we have on the table, the idea of modular refineries. With it, we will produce the same product the big refineries produce, but it will be on a small scale. The government will be the driver of this project and we will provide the enabling environment.
“About 2,000 people are involved in kpofire but over 7 million people are suffering the effects.
“We are here for the environment and health issues. Nobody is going after anybody, we are in this together. We are hoping that in no distance future, we will see construction going on in the areas marked out.”