Environmental pollution is a reality that many Nigerians have always had to live with, especially those resident in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. But since November 2016, residents of Port Harcourt, River state have been facing a new kind of danger: rising black soot particles in the air - leaving soot residue on surfaces in and out of their homes.
The black soot which is believed to cause respiratory diseases, and even cancer, led Nigeria’s ministry of environment to declare an air pollution emergency in the affected areas. At the time, the ministry claimed preliminary test samples of the soot indicated it was caused by “incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons” as well as “asphalt processing and illegal artisanal refinery operations.”
Burning tyres for scrap copper and illegal oil refineries have both been blamed for the residue. The state government shut down an asphalt processing plant operating in the area and sealed off a Chinese company in the city for "aggravated air pollution, and breach of environmental laws". The hashtag #StopTheSoot was used to protest on Twitter, people shared photographs of their hands and feet covered in the dust, and protest marches were organised.
For a while, the soot stopped, but as of today, it appears that it has fully returned, and residents are once again in a panic. The #StopTheSoot has returned and we, as a nation, need to pay attention to the plight of the people in Port Harcourt.
Honestly speaking, this soot thing in port Harcourt is getting out of hand, is it until it starts killing people that the government will react??#Stopthesoot— TheRealGentleman™ (@chukablaze) March 6, 2018
Ladies and gents, boiling cannot remove soot from our drinking water. When rain falls, these soot are absorbed into the soil then to our borehole water. Over 60% of portharcourt residents rely on borehole for drinking. #stopthesoot— MY OGA. (@Istandfortruth1) March 6, 2018
Do you people know that some of these black soot have very tiny particles of metal in them? We inhale these particles. MY God!!! We don't deserve this. Let us all #Stopthesoot . Let us send a message to the government. We want to live. Lets let them know we need fresh air.— MY OGA. (@Istandfortruth1) March 6, 2018
Soot is damaging the air quality in Port Harcourt for the past seven months and no one is doing anything about it. Do u wish for everyone living here to die of cancer before coming to our rescue @AsoRock— Raph (@Raph_owen) March 6, 2018