The ‘life threatening rock blasting’ has caused residents of the FCT community to reach out to Wike

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In response to what they deemed as “life threatening blasting of rocks” in their neighborhood, several residents and business owners in Abuja’s Guzape district have written a “Save our Soul” letter to Minister Nyesom Wike and the appropriate government agencies.

A number of locals have voiced their displeasure that Gilmor Construction Limited is carrying out the blast in defiance of both existing legislation and an ongoing legal dispute.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Simon Achuba, a former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, spoke on behalf of the district’s residents. Achuba acknowledged that “the purpose of the blasting is for the construction of road for the development of Guzape District,” but he also pointed out that “it is only the living that can enjoy amenities.”

Achuba said that Gilmor and her foreign nationals should have been familiar with the law, mentioning that Nigeria is a signatory of the International Treaty and Conventions on explosives and blast method.

There has been continuous rock blasting near our residential accommodations for the past three months, accompanied by tremors. This is against the statute that governs rock blasting for building or mining.

“At any point when the blasting is done, the entire neighborhood around the blasting site will tremble, which will harm the stability of these homes and endanger the lives of our families who live there,” he said.

Furthermore, he said that the building firm ignored the police’s warnings and did not follow blasting regulations.

Furthermore, the locals asserted that just as the court was about to grant a restraining order to prevent “further damage and innocuous blasting,” they encountered numerous outside interests, which caused legal complexities and slowed down the justice process.

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Within that time frame, the lawsuit went through three postponements, each lasting several days, before a judge was finally assigned to the case.

The case will now reschedule for April 16, 2024.

Even if they hope for progress in the Guzape district, the locals there are adamant that it shouldn’t come at the price of their lives.

“Of what importance is road construction when the human beings that supposed to live therein are dead or living in fear of heart failure sequel to incessant earth tremor blasting?” the residents asked, referencing Section 17(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, which provided for the dignity of the human person.

They asserted that Galmor Construction Ltd’s decision to proceed with the blasting violates their right to life as guaranteed by Section 33 of the Constitution.

That Gilmor’s actions on the site qualify as a “act of blasting” under the word-interpretation provisions of Section 43 is noteworthy. Gilmor should have used environmentally friendly technology that caused the least amount of damage to people and the environment during the blasting in the Guzape district, as required by these regulations. It’s a shame that they didn’t.

“As a result, Gilmor’s actions and carelessness violate Section 12, which regulates acceptable noise levels. When an individual’s activities cause an excessive amount of noise, this behavior is punishable according to the National Environmental (Noise Standard and Control Regulations 2009) guidelines.

Last but not least, the National Environmental (Construction Sector) Regulations 2011 impose obligations on Gilmor as a construction business with respect to the health, welfare, and safety of persons and property during construction activities.

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According to the regulations, operators whose work involves blasting must follow the rules outlined in Schedule ix. Since Gilmor did not follow the rules in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (5), they should have used the right blasting design and procedure.

We are urging the relevant authorities to immediately halt the dangerous blasting that is endangering our lives and property, as well as the federal ministry of the environment and the FCDA, in light of the numerous violations and blatant disregard for legal requirements and statutory regulations.

Amenities are available only to the living. Locals also noted that Nigeria is a signatory to treaties and conventions pertaining to explosives and blasting techniques, and that the most recent World Conference on the topic, held in the Netherlands in 2022, placed a focus on global standards that Gilmor and her foreign nationals should be familiar with.

One of Gilmor’s senior staffers, who refused to be named, told reporters that the company does not comment on matters such as this when they visited the Abuja headquarters to get a response from the firm.

He implied that the journalists would face arrest from the police if they continued with the assignment.

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