…No cause for alarm, says Agency
Worried by the negative impacts of quarry companies operating at Mpape, a suburb of Abuja, following the earth tremors experienced by residents for two days, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has directed the suspension of further quarry, mining activities and borehole drilling in Mpape, Gwarimpa and Garki Districts of Abuja, pending the outcome of investigations on the root causes of the incidents.
The Minister gave this order when he paid an on-the-spot visit to Mpape, the epicentre of the reported incidents of earth tremors in parts of Abuja recently.
Speaking on behalf of the FCT Minister, the Permanent Secretary, Chinyeaka Ohaa, advised residents of the affected areas that there was no cause for alarm, adding that geological experts have counseled that Abuja was not on the line of any major seismic danger.
The minister has therefore asked residents of the impacted areas to go about their businesses without fear, disclosing that the FCT administration is engaging both local and international geological experts, in order to unravel the root causes of the earth tremors experienced in parts of Abuja.
Preliminary reports, he said, indicate that the activities of rock blasting from quarry and mining activities, as well as the proliferation of borehole drilling were likely causes of these tremors.
Consequently, he stressed that it has become necessary to suspend all quarrying activities in various sites of Abuja, especially Mpape, Garki, Gwarimpa and other contiguous areas.
Responding to the minister’s address, the District Head of Mpape, Malam Abubakar Ibrahim Gimba as well as the Chairman of Mpape Residents Associations, Mr. Ameh Christian, recounted that the community had experienced tremors in the past, but that the recent incidents were more pronounced.
They thanked the FCT administration for its prompt response to the incident while acknowledging the presence of the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The traditional ruler stated that the assurances given by the FCT administration would go a long way to calm the residents and assuage the fears of an immediate and pending disaster.
Meanwhile, the FCT Emergency Management Agency has urged the public to contact FEMA on its 112 toll free emergency number in case of any emergency.
Also, Mr. Alex Nwegbu, Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), has assured the general public not to panic over the earth tremor in Mpape.
Nwegbu, who said this at news conference in Abuja on Friday, further assured that there was no cause for alarm.
He said that the agency would keep close monitoring team for the next 48 hours within which arrangement ought to have been concluded for a detailed survey in the area.
According to him, the monitoring involves reflection seismic and gravity measurement.
Nwegbu said that the agency dispatched a team of geologists and geophysicists, immediately it received the news of a disturbing ground shaking, experienced by the inhabitants of Mpape.
“From the interview we conducted with people and the reconnaissance survey carried out, we found out that the vibration started around 2.30p.m on September 5 which lasted about a second but reoccurred three hours later around 5.30p.m.
“The vibration was again felt around 8pm which lasted for 10 seconds,’’ he said.
The Director-General said the survey carried out also showed that there were no cracks on the buildings or on the ground.
He advised that once people notice such earth tremor, they should move out of the house and monitor the progress.
Nwegbu, however, advocated increased funding to enable the agency properly carry out its mandate.
According to Nwegbu, earthquakes tend to be concentrated in particular zones which coincide with the boundaries of the tectonic plates into which the earth is divided.
He said such boundaries might either be spreading zones of transform faults of subduction zones.
The Directro-General said that it was erroneous to think that countries or zones not contiguous with plate boundaries were aseismic.
Nwegbu said that Nigeria was not situated at the plate boundaries and such the country was not at risk.
He said that the agency recently procured six earthquake monitoring seismograms to enable proper monitoring of all ground disturbances.
Nwegbu said that the process of installations of the seismograms had begun in six geological zones of the country.
According to him, the equipment will enable the agency warn people before hand, in case of any expected earth tremor.
He urged Nigerians to call the following emergency numbers: 08035956056, 08023154825 and08037000623.
The Daily Times recalls that earth tremor happened around Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Gembu in the Mambila Plateau and Ibadan, Oyo State in 1984.