Anambra residents flee homes over pollution from rice mill

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The alleged pollution from the rice mill factory  in the middle of a community has forced residents of NGO Ndam, Nnobi in Idemili South local government area of Anambra State to flee their homes. 

But the owner of Seaman Rice Mill, Chief Emeka Agbanari, said the matter was being resolved with leadership of the community, stating “there’s no cause for alarm”. 

Spokesman of the affected families, Mr. John  Enwedo, on Wednesday, said they did not know what was being built around them until the factory started operation.

According to him: “The rice mill was sited here last year. When the production started, we noticed very dark smoke coming from the factory and our entire kindred is now covered with smoke. 

“Many people around started experiencing itching on their eyes and some started suffering body rashes.

 “The noise from the factory does not allow us to sleep. My aged mother has been falling sick frequently since the factory started operation. She too has rashes  all over her body.

“Since then, we had cried out to the community leader and he has not done anything. As it is, we don’t know what to do and all we need is for government to come to our rescue. 

“The owner of the factory has also not done anything since we started lamenting about the problem. The factory operates 24 hours and we no longer sleep in our houses. The pollution is too much and unbearable. 

“We complained to the community leader Webster Okonkwo a month ago and we are still waiting for his action. He has however promised to attend to the problem. 

“We want the factory to be removed completely because this is a residential area. This is not an industrial area where factory of this nature should be sited.

“Many people in this area had relocated their livestock and other domestic animals as they were dying in large numbers on daily basis as a result of the hazard.

“Our tenants have abandoned their rented houses to safer areas. We can no longer collect water from our houses as the water is completely dark” he lamented

But Agbanari said the process for resolving the problem was ongoing.

He said: “We are still test- running the machines and you  know that in the process of test -run, there would always be errors of this nature. 

“We are fixing the problem. We are working on it presently and the people who installed the machines are on ground working on it. 

“We have talked with the people and as someone from this community, I won’t do anything to undermine the health of the people.

“The chairman of the community talked to  me about it and even on Sunday, we held a meeting concerning the impact the mill is having on the villagers. 

“We have also agreed to bring back the people that installed the machines and they are already effecting the necessary corrections as we speak. 

“The problem is that the tower carrying the smoke is not properly directed but it will soon be corrected.”

However, he argued that rice mill does not emit dangerous materials, adding that what the factory uses is wood burnt in the mill. 

Anambra Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Felix Odumegwu said that following a petition from the community, his ministry sent a technical team to assess the situation, adding that the report was being awaited.

An agricultural extension consultant, Mr. Emma Okafor, said with what is happening in the community, plants in the area would no longer produce fruits and tubers as the dark smoke covers the leaves, thereby making it difficult for photosynthesis to take place.

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