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Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Mfonobong Ukpong (23:07:2019)

A bill for a law to establish the Akwa Ibom State Safety Commission and for other related matters has scaled second reading at Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. The bill which is sponsored by the lawmaker representing, Esit-Eket/Ibeno State Constituency, Mr. Usoro AkpanUsoh and eight others, passed second resding, Tuesday 23re July, 2019 at plenary.

The bill seeks among other things to set up a framework that would promote safety among the citizenry. If passed by the legislature and eventually accented to by the executive, the bill makes provision for the establishment of  a commission to encourage, regulate and promote capacity building of staff and other appropriate individual in public and private organizations for safety of lives and properties and other related Safety  issues in the state.

Opening debate on the bill, the lead sponsor, Mr. Akpanusoh, explained that the idea behind the bill came about after unfortunate incident of 2017 where the state was thrown into mourning following the collapse of a church building belonging to Reigners Bible Church at Uyo Village road during a church service which resulted in the death of many, while others sustained various degree of injury.

The lawmaker pointed out that such disaster would have been averted if proper safety measures had been put in place. While canvassing support from his colleagues for the smooth sail of the bill, Akpanusoh explained that the proposed commission is in the over all interest of the state, as it would add value to the development efforts of the current administration in the state. Other functions of the commission includes, "to conduct investigations, research, evaluations and make recommendations accordingly". The bill also provides that practitioners must be registered members of the Institute Of Safety Professionals Of Nigeria (ISPON).

Contributing, the member representing Ibesikpo-Asutan State Constituency, Aniekan Uko, described the bill as timely, saying he was confident that the bill will promote safety culture among Akwa Ibom people. He observed that most of the construction companies handling various jobs in the state do not comply with safety standards, noting that the Safety Commission bill sponsored by his colleague has come to address the issue.

''i think since 2018 after the property tax bill, this the first time iam supporting his bill. So many construction companies operating in the state must comply to safety standards. This bill will also promote safety cultures through sustained enlightenment programs".

Member for Abak State Constituency, Mr. Udeme Otong on his part noted that the bill would go a long way to ensuring that adequate safety measures are put in place at both public and private buildings in the state.

 "This bill would empower us to ensure we have safety measures in organizations, government ministries, department and agencies. Safety also implies that the finances of our people in Akwa Ibom State will improve and it is very important that we all support this bill. A Safety is very important to our state. If this bill is passed into law, safety would be guaranteed at workplace, homes, and our villages in the state".

Deputy Leader of the House, Barr. Aniefiok Dennis, who is a  co-sponsor of the bill, told his colleagues that the bill seeks to ensure there were 'checks and balances' in the erection of buildings across the state.

"It has to do with life, safety, comfort.". Citing a clause in the proposed law, the Etinan representative said  ''clause 10  says the commission shall have the powers to clearly set standards and ensure checks and balances in the erection of buildings. We now have high rise buildings springing up in the state today".

Chairman of the House Committe on NDDC, and Member representing Uyo State Constituency, Mr. Anietie Eka, who said he was satisfied with the contents of the bill, cited Lagos State as one of the few states in the federation that has a Safety Commission in place, and hailed the sponsor introducing the bill. Eka frowned at the use of uncompleted buildings for church, social events and other public activities.

"I support this bill, and i'm Satisfied with the contents of the bill. In 2009, the Lagos State government inaugurated a safety commission". 

Others who threw their weight behind the bill including, the member for Ikono State Constituency, Mr. Nanna Udo, and his counterpart from Ukanafun, Dr. Charity Ido, (co-sponsor) said the bill was timely and urged the House to accord it the necessary legislative backing to enable the state and it's people stay safe from preventable mishap.

Global Pilot news recalls an unfortunate incident that occurred about three months ago at a project site along Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo, where a staff of a construction company handling a high rise building at the Business and financial district, reportedly slipped and fell from the seventh floor of the story building which is under construction. The staff(names withheld) sustained serious injury on his head and was rushed to a private hospital in Uyo(names withheld) where series of x-ray conducted on him showed he had sustained injuries on the spinal cord.

Reacting to the bill,  Speaker of the House, Mr. Aniekan Bassey, referred the bill to a joint committee on works, Labour and Productivity for indepth study and scrutiny. The committee is to report back to the House in a months time. 

Also at plenary, the House mandated it's Committee on Works and Transport to undertake an on- the spot visit to Obot-Idim community in Ibesikpo-Asutan with a view of ascertaining the level of destruction allegedly caused in the area by flood. This was sequel to a matter of urgent public importance raised by the Member representing Ibsesikpo-Asutan, Mr. Aniekan Uko who complained about the level of water emptied into the community as a result of what he observed as wrong channelisation of underground water by a construction company. He informed the House that many residents of Obot-Idim have been displaced from their homes as a result of the outflow of rain water in the area.

"'Mr. Speaker, the perennial flood evacuated from IBB, Aka road, Godswill Akpabio Boulevard, and environs are all channeled to a small stream called, Obot Idim River. The construction of the water channel was not being properly channeled to the water Source. The force of water there can power a turbine. Water now empties into peoples houses, destroying properties and has made residents turn to refugees. They are seeking shelter elsewhere"

Among his prayers, the Assembly member urged the House to direct the ministry of works to ensure that the water was re channeled properly, while also asking that the state government should provide relief materials to members of the community affected by the disaster.

In his reaction, the Speaker mandated the House Committee on Works and Transport to submit it's report in a month time.

Meanwhile, members of the State House of Assembly have embarked on a recess. This is in line with the legislative calendar of the House. The break which commences today, will last till for a period of one month, and nineteen days  time, as they would be resuming for full legislative business on the 10th of September.

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