The Osun state House of Assembly has asked the management of Ife Iron and Steel Company of Nigeria and other relevant agencies in the environment sector to appear before it.
They are to appear before the lawmakers on Monday, November 7 over issue of environmental and air pollution, raised by a member of the House representing Ife North-State Constituency, Babatunde Olatunji.
The decision to summon the company was reached at the plenary on Tuesday, after hours of deliberations on the issue.
Honourable Olatunji told the House that the effect of the pollution on the people living in the area called for urgent attention.
“This company we are talking about has its advantage, as it is helping the economy of the state, however, we must be mindful of the fact that it is not about what happens today. It is about the health of the people.
“We know that steel manufacturing comes with a lot of hazard and the global practice is that everywhere there is such production, measures have to be put in place to mitigate the effect of the hazardous emissions and to also ensure that the lives of the people living around that area and the employees are secured.
“But as we have it in the Ife Central, the Ogunwusi and the Fasina communities, life has been a bit difficult for the locals in that community by virtue of the hazardous emissions coming from the chimney of that steel company,” he said.
Honourable Olatunji further stated that “the community has taken several steps to let the company know the danger of the emissions to their health but so far there has been no change five years after.
“We feel that while we appreciate the effort of this steel company in boosting our industrialisation drive and tax drive, we also owe it as a sense of duty that our people are protected.
“We need to ensure that they adhere to safety rules and the concern agency of government saddled with the responsibility should also be summoned to explain their role in all of these,” he added.
While lamenting the effect of the pollution caused by the factory on the residents of the area, the speaker of the house, Honourable Najeem Salaam, said it was important that the management of the company and other relevant agencies appeared before the House.
“The lives of our people is of utmost importance to us. The concerned authority need to be informed and they have to come here to speak too.
“When we sell out the lives of our people for whatever gain we are expecting, as a government, it does not make sense at all. We care for our people and we must ensure their safety,” he reminded the House.
On his part, Honourable Salaam said: “There is need for us to reach out to the concerned regulatory bodies, Osun State Ministry of Environment, NESREA, Town planning Department and others. The location of the factory also calls for questioning.
“Let these bodies have the opportunity to defend themselves and let’s know how to handle the situation, our intimate aim is to ensure that our people live a healthy life not contaminated with emission from any factory”.
Majority of the members present at the sitting agreed that the health of the people living in the area should not be compromised for any investment.
The people of Fasina-Ogunwusi in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun State had recently staged protests against the impact of the emission coming from the steel production of Ife Iron and Steel Nigeria Limited on their health.