Abuja Tremor: Minister suspends mining, quarrying, borehole drilling in affected areas

Abuja on map
Abuja on map

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, has directed the suspension of further quarrying and mining activities in the affected areas of Mpape, Gwarimpa and Garki districts where earth vibrations have been reported recently.

Residents were apprehensive over the sudden shake of the earth in the affected areas in Abuja.

The vibrations was first noticed by residents of Mpape and Maitama districts Wednesday evening and Thursday morning but by Friday morning, it extended to other areas such as Durumi and Jabi in the Nigerian capital.

“We first noticed it on Wednesday evening and it happened twice and also on Thursday morning. The house was checking and vibrating and you can hear a loud noise,” Daramfon Bassy who stays close to Banex Plaza off Euphrates street, Maitama, narrated.

“I felt it on my feet. I was sitting down and I felt the ground was moving in my feet. It was a matter of seconds then it stopped. It happened again twice this morning.

“I was afraid because this is very very new in Abuja.”

According to a statement by the FCTA Press Secretary, Cosmas Uzodinma the minister gave the order when he paid an on-the-spot visit to Mpape, the epicentre of reported incidents. The minister also halted drilling of boreholes in the affected areas “pending the outcome of investigations on the root causes of the incidents.”

Preliminary reports, he said, indicate that the activities of rock blasting from quarrying, mining activities, as well as proliferation of borehole drilling were likely causes of these tremors.

“Consequently, it became necessary to suspend all quarrying activities in various sites of Abuja, especially Mpape, Garki, Gwarimpa and contiguous areas.”

The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had said the possible cause of the earth shaking in some parts of the Nigerian capital was as a result of earth tremor.

But God’spower Martins, the Executive director Urban-Rural Environmental Defenders (U-RED) said apart from natural factor identified by FEMA, “we cannot completely disassociate the reasons from anthropogenic causes such as indiscriminate rock blasting with crud technology in residential communities by quarry companies over the years in the affected communities and Abuja in general.”

Mpape, which is few kilometres from Maitama, is home to several quarries.

On his part, an environmental rights activist, Nimo Bassey, stressed the need for an urgent audit of all rock mining sites in Abuja to ascertain the legality or illegalities of the activities.

“There should be due penalty for illegal activities, halting of future rock mining and compensation of communities that have suffered loss of lives and of livestock due these reprehensible activities. Abuja may not be on a seismic faultline, but these tremors combined with similar ones recorded in Bayelsa State (related to oil and gas extraction)in the past are warnings that our actions may be leading to catastrophic results in the near future.”

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in a tweet Friday morning urged Nigerians to remain calm over the development in the FCT.

“We have all being feeling the earth tremors in Abuja and surrounding areas over the last 48 hours but please remain calm and vigilant,” he wrote.

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