This is not the best of time for so many people in Rivers State, especially those residing in Port Harcourt and other communities where there is high concentration of oil exploration and exploitation activities.
Residents from Eleme, Oyigbo, Etche, Omuma, Buguma, Bonny, Ahoada, Ndoni, Omoku to Port Harcourt have complained about the hot weather which, they said, has attained an unbearable proportion.
The residents, who raised concern over the devastating heat wave experienced in the past three weeks, said the hot weather condition has attained its peak just as it is bearing huge toll on their health.
While some residents and environmental experts attributed the hot weather to the depletion of ozone layer as a result of oil companies whose activities impact negatively on the environment, others see it as a natural cause which occurs as a result of periodic change in the weather.
Irrespective of the cause of the heat wave, the residents of the oil rich state describe the hot weather condition as unfriendly and hazardous to their health.
Heat wave, according to Wikipedia, is a period of excessively hot weather which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries.
An environmental expert, John Tari, says heat wave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into an area and lasts two or more days.
He said that in such a high-pressure system, air from upper levels of the atmosphere is pulled towards the ground where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature.
On the impact of heat wave on human body, Tari said that it causes exhaustion, which he said can be dangerous “The longer you spend in the heat the more serious the effect on your body temperature can cause heavy sweating, clammy skin, dehydration, tiredness, headache, dizziness, nausea, cramps and a quick weak pulse,” he stated.
A resident of Port Harcourt, Clement Ubaka, noted that the impact of the heat wave is becoming unbearable, saying, the impact of the hot weather has forced many residents to stay late outside their houses in other to feel natural air.
“The heat wave in Port-Harcourt and its environs is becoming harmful. The hot weather conditions have worsened in recent time because of the dry weather. If you check, you will find out that there has been no rainfall since this year and the heat wave is accompanied by dry and dusty environment,” he said.
Ubaka, who lamented that dusty environment and the heat wave were threatening the healthy environment in the state, said the inability of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED to provide constant electricity has worsened the matter.
“My family stays outside the house up to 3.00am because of heat and this is not good for our safety,” he stated.
Another resident, Ipa Ogbomudia, attributed the hot weather condition to the activities of those involved in illegal refining of petroleum products known as ‘Kpo fire’.
He said that the activities of illegal oil bunkrers unleashed hazardous carbon dioxide in the environment which, he said, has heightened the already tensed and hot weather conditions.
“Weather conditions in Rivers State are terrible. The heat wave is very dangerous and could be very hazardous to our health. I don’t wear shirt to sleep and that is the only way I can sleep comfortably. To worsen the situation, electricity is not steady and this forces many to sleep outside”
“In my house everybody sleep on tiles and doctors advise that sleeping on tiles could cause pneumonia, so I don’t know how we are going to survive this. The weather is really very unfriendly,” he stated.
For Akosa Chinedu, the hot weather condition makes him shower late as that is one of the measures he has deviced to beat the devastating heat wave.
“I am not an environmentalist but all that we are hearing is that the heat wave is caused by depletion of ozone layer in the atmosphere. I learnt that this is responsible for the lack of rainfall that we have not witnessed since December last year,” he stated.
An Environmental Justice Activist, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, attributed the heat wave to what he described as different types of “cooking’s” going on in Rivers State.
“Rivers State is being cooked by the industrial activities of the various non-oil and oil companies and those flaring gas, the companies refining like the refineries and the companies that are producing fertilizers; their activities impacted negatively on the environment”
He further said: “Rivers State is also undergoing serious cooking and heating from the activities of those involved in the act of illegal refining popularly called Kpofire. Besides, security operatives that set ablaze tankers, vessels and illegal refining sites also contribute to the heat waves being experienced in Rivers State today in addition to the black soot that results from these processes of incomplete combustions.”
He, however, called on the government and regulatory authorities to ensure effective monitoring of the operational activities of the emitting and polluting companies and also work towards ending activities of illegal refining by making real the promise of provision of modular refineries and other means of livelihood for youths involved.
Speaking on the health implication of the heat wave, a medical doctor in one of the state government owned hospitals, who pleaded anonymity, advised residents to wear light fabrics as to reduce the impact of the heatwave on the skin.
While advising residents not to expose themselves to sun, he recommended that they take a lot of water to avoid dehydration.