Bayelsa State Government has empathized with communities along the Epie Creek for the hardship they are suffering following the blockage of the creek by water hyacinth.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo who expressed government’s concern over the situation, assured the Epie people of the present administration’s commitment toward finding a lasting solution to the problem.
Speaking in his office in Government House, Yenagoa when he hosted some community leaders of Epie kingdom, he noted the negative impact of water hyacinth in the Epie creek on the livelihood of the people and urged them to cooperate with government to address environmental challenges in their area.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo stated that government is not only aware of the problem caused by the water hyacinth but has been taking steps over the years to address them and assured that plans are underway to find a permanent solution to the problem.
He noted that timing is key to the clearing of water hyacinth in order to achieve the desired result and called for patience and understanding on the part of the affected communities.
While acknowledging the right of the people of Onopa to express their grievance through protests, the Deputy Governor advocated dialogue as a means of resolving issues.
He warned the people against taking laws into their hands in the course of demanding for their rights.
His words: while we empathize with the communities over what has happened, it does not mean that we are not willing to do something about the water hyacinth. The water hyacinth on your river has become a source of embarrassment both to you and to us”
“We do not believe that the first solution to a problem is to block roads because the right of the roads is a right that everybody enjoys. So if you now block the roads, while you have a right to protest, you are blocking the rights of other people of freedom of movement”.
“I also need to let you know, even before the flood, I and Honourable Oforji have been working together to clear water hyacinth since 2012. It was only last year we couldn’t do so because of the demands of election.
“Already, we have a paper before us on how to remove this water hyacinth. I have also sent it to the appropriate quarters, so it is not a question of government not being mindful of the problem you are facing.”
Also speaking, Member representing Yenagoa Constituency 1 in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Oforji Oboku remarked that government is concerned about the plight of the people of Epie and assured that a long term solution is imminent.
He called for calm on the part of the people in the face of the difficulty caused by the water hyacinth, saying government is equal to the task and would take appropriate steps to address the problem.
Also, Secretary to the State Government, Right Hon. Konbowei Benson a sued for calm, stressing that the presence of the water hyacinth in the Epie creek is of great concern to the government because of its multiplier effect on the state at large.
Various community representatives who spoke at the meeting suggested the engagement of youths to clear temporary paths through which farmers can access their farms in the short term while in the long term the water hyacinth should be cleared when the water recedes.
Speaker after speaker including the Commissioner for Environment, Hon Iselema Gbaranbiri, the Paramount Ruler of Onopa Community, Chief Morris Tamama and his Amarata counterpart, Chief Ignatius Buseri-Edege, identified the dredging of the Epie Creek as a long term solution.