By Collins Opurozor
That Imo State has emerged from the maelstrom of environmental disaster is now very evident. The woes of the State had been doubled not just because, for instance, in 2018 alone the oil and gas firms operating in the State contributed a whopping 40% of the 282.08 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas flared in Nigeria, amounting to a potential loss of N234 billion, but more because the environmental policy in place in the past eight years only created an Imo of iron and concrete jungle.
Ornamental trees and hedges, as aesthetically pleasing as they could be, and pedestrian-friendly walkways and boulevards all left our streets.
While the unmitigated gas flaring induced a warmer climate that earned the State certain cruel flooding at each rainy season, the recipe which a friendly environmental policy would have offered was completely nonexistent, just as a drainage system was. In this way, our ecosystem came under serious threat.
To make matters worse, concrete pillars and overhead iron projectiles became a fashionable pattern for urban renewal and beautification, which at last got the cities more heated up and presented a certainty for higher fatality rates in the event of an accident, even as they gulped unjustifiably humongous budgets.
Monthly sanitation was jettisoned, filth and scum took over the streets, and one could, in all sincerity, wish nostalgically for a return to the days when Owerri was the tourist receptacle of Nigeria.
That wish for a clean and alluring Imo has come to pass with the reintroduction and restoration of total compliance to the monthly environmental sanitation exercise by the Ihedioha administration.
To curb the effects of climate change, Gov. Ihedioha has launched the Tree-planting campaign with the planting of over 5000 trees to reduce carbon emissions. The success of this initiative led to the invitation of the General Manager of ENTRACO as a panelist at the Green Cities Seminar in Abuja by the Nigerian Town Planners Association.
In a similar vein, the Government has embarked on the desilting of all drains in Owerri Municipal with 30% already completed.
Also, the Ihedioha administration had carried out the desilting of six major tunnels at the Rockview Roundabout and several other tunnels in the city resulting in the reduction of flood in these areas.
Similarly, the desilting of Lake Nwaebere, Trans-Egbu Water Basin and Mbano Street Basins with swamp boogies is ongoing.
The Government has introduced the Project Imoscape, which seeks to collaborate with individuals and corporate organisations to develop our verges, green parks, roundabouts, car parks and planting of trees. Already, donations of over 1, 000 trees have been received.
Introduction of refuse bags for bagging of wastes and bins in the city of Owerri and purchase of street bins and compactors so as to stop the habit of throwing waste indiscriminately have been effectuated by the Ihedioha administration.
Inauguration of ENTRACO Committees in LGAs and Zones and introduction of ENTRACO Clubs in Tertiary institutions in Imo State serve to demonstrate the resolve of the extant administration towards a cleaner and greener State.
To be clear, the introduction of #GoGreenStayClean Environmental Policy in Imo State has seen to the evacuation of over 160 metric tonnes of solid waste in the last few days.
Stoppage of the illegal dredging of Nwaorie River and other water bodies across the State was also a commendable step taken by the administration to avert natural disasters which may result from constant land mining.
Owing to incessant flooding being witnessed in the State, Gov Ihedioha hosted the first stakeholders interactive session with the Society of Engineers and other allied professional bodies August 6th to find a lasting solution to the issues of flooding witnessed in the State.