Water hyacinth has blocked Epie Creek in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, making life difficult for residents of communities in the area, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has said.
Following the development, navigation in the area has become impossible as canoes and other river crafts can no longer use the creek which connects several communities, farmlands and fishing settlements in the oil and gas rich Bayelsa State capital.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the water channel which used to serve as water transport route for several communities and fishing grounds was no longer navigable.
The Head of Field Operations at ERA/FoEN, Mr. Morris Alagoa spoke during a field advocacy visit by the environmental rights group to the leadership of Onopa community in Yenagoa.
Alagoa noted that the blockage of the Epie Creek by water hyacinth had resulted in economic hardship and loss of livelihood as the residents could no longer engage in their traditional fishing and farming occupation.
He called on the Bayelsa State Government, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to come to the aid of Onopa people and clear the accumulated weeds.
“This water hyacinth menace is unacceptable because it is a huge breeding ground for mosquitoes in Yenagoa. Snakes and other reptiles could make this their home and it could be dangerous to human existence because they can enter homes.
“But the most important thing is that it has denied the people of Onopa community thoroughfare to and from their farms across the creek and fishing settlements. We ought to enjoy this creek as a watercourse that has fish for fisher folks. So, it is a huge denial of our people, short-changing our people of their means of livelihood and it is a threat to life.”
Continuing, the environmentalist said: “Incidentally, I heard a life was lost. And this is just by the Government House. They do not need anyone to tell them. We join our voice with the good people of Onopa community and Epie-Atissa to call on the authorities, especially the Bayelsa State Government; Federal Government interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs not to allow this menace remain like this or get even worse”.
The paramount ruler of the community, Chief Morris Tamama in his remarks attributed the problem of water hyacinth to the construction of the Onopa Bridge by the state government which he said had worsened the situation.
Tamama lamented that the weed had caused the community people agony as it had prevented women, men and youths from fishing in the creek.
“It also blocked access to their plantain, banana and cassava farms, among others. We are the host of the Government House but we have nothing to show for it. No water, no light. This water hyacinth has done a lot of harm to us. Where you are supposed to use five minutes to cross the creek, it will hold you down for at least one hour before you can cross. Last year, someone died in the creek because he was stuck in the water hyacinth and because there was no communication, he died before the following day,” he said.