The Chairman of the community, Rev. Jacob Fadare, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Osogbo on Friday, said the thick smoke coming out of the factory had made some of the residents of the community to develop some diseases, including respiratory ailments.
He said residents of the town and other adjourning communities had been inhaling dangerous smoke coming out of the factory since 2011 when the iron and steel company commenced operations.
“We complained to the late Ooni of Ife, we have complained to many quarters and the latest is our protest letter to the Osun State House of Assembly. We want the House to compel them to do the needful or relocate their factory.”
The Chairman, Osun State House of Assembly Committee on Commerce and Industries, Mr. Babatunde Olatunji, had raised the issue of the dangers the people of communities around the Ife Iron and Steel Company as well as those around Prism Steel Limited located in Ikirun were exposed to.
Following this, the assembly summoned the two companies as well as officials of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Osun State Ministry of Environment, local government officials and leaders of the affected communities.
Olatunji, who represents Ife North Constituency, said during the proceedings that the hazardous fumes being emitted by the two companies could increase the number of cancer patients in the state and even beyond.
He said the people living close to the factories were inhaling poisonous gas on daily basis, while people who consumed vegetables and other crops being grown in the areas were also exposed to diseases.
Addressing the firms, he lawmaker said, “You are known to always want to circumvent the rules. And it is unfortunate that you have your people in in government agencies who are conniving with you to circumvent the rules.
“You have succeeded in growing the number of cancer patients. You know the problems you are causing but you are not interested in the health of our people.”
The Deputy Speaker, Mr. Akintunde Adegboye; Chairman, House Committee on Information, Mr. Olatubosun Oyintiloye; as well as other lawmakers berated the companies for not taking the health of the people of their host communities seriously.
But the Group Managing Director, Ife Iron and Steel Nigeria Limited, Mr. Rajiv Bali, said the company complied with relevant guidelines and safety regulations, stressing that the fume coming out of the factory was not injurious to human health.
The Personnel Manager of the company, Mr. Adeleke Oluwanisola, also said the firm carried out Environmental Impact Assessment before it started operations.
He said, “N150m worth of equipment was installed at the factory to ensure that it’s emission is within the permissible limit. Emission coming out of our factory is not as dangerous as it is being hyped.”
The Personnel Manager of Prism Steel Limited, Mr. SoyodeBabatunde, also said the company carried out an EIA and installed emission abatement device to ensure that the emission did not exceed the permissible limit.
The Speaker of the House, Mr. Najeem Salaam, said the two companies should prepare to reduce their emission and that the House would take a decision on the issue on very soon.
Source – Punch Newspaper