The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, has assured the Quarry Owners Association of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory Chapter that government is prudently looking into the embargo placed on blasting activities by Quarry Companies in Mpape and its environs, which obviously has affected their operations and market demand in the country.
This was contained in his remarks when the group paid him a courtesy visit at the Ministry’s Headquarters, Abuja. He explained that the sanction was not a deliberate act to frustrate their activities but a positive move by the government to ascertain the root cause of earth tremor experienced in some areas of Abuja in order to secure lives, properties and the environment. The incident, he said, led to the set up of Committee of Enquiry by the Federal Executive Council.
The Minister commended the immense contributions of the group in generating revenue to the Ministry and creating jobs, but regretted that the restriction has dwindled income of the Ministry. He, however, urged them to submit their solutions to the sanction problem, which will be presented as part of Ministry’s Report to the Committee as a proof of their efforts to resolve the matter.
According to him, the Ministry is anxiously waiting for the Committee’s Report to enable it obtain clearance for blasting activities to resume, adding that studies so far carried out showed the occurrence was not caused by quarry activities. The expected report, he revealed, contains stringent measures to ensure their safety operations and protection of the environment. He, among other things, assured that buffer zone will be created for the group to ensure safety of the environment, increased royalties and taxation.
In the same vein, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Barrister Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, MON, noted that the Ministry looks forward to their resuming work as the sanction placed on them has affected its royalties from Quarry activities. The tremor in Abuja is a safety issue and that the step taken by the government is to ensure security and welfare of residents, she added
In his address, the Managing-Director, ZEBERCED LTD, Adi Aydin Kurt, noted that the main crux of their discourse with the Ministry is on total suspension of blasting activities slammed on Quarry Companies in Mpape and its environs because of earth tremor concerns.
He noted that as major stakeholders they are equally apprehensive by the issue and, thus, set up a technical committee, which has proffered suggestions to enable the Ministry and Association achieve a common goal. The strategies tendered are: the reduction of drilling from 25 – 30m to 2 – 3m depth; use of less explosive materials; blasting to be done one after the other and should be regulated at twice a week in Mpape and its environs; creation of buffer zones for Quarry operations; drawing and implementation of approval plans from the Ministry by the Mines Office Abuja, and use of bulk emulsion device that guarantee silent blasting.
He, therefore, appealed for the relaxation of total suspension of blasting activities by Quarry Companies, as the attendant backlash cannot be overemphasized.