Lake Nyos Wall Collapse: NW Regional Delegate of Environment Dispels rumours.The Regional Delegate for Environment and Nature Protection, Shey Francis Fonye, has dispelled recent rumours that one of the walls of Lake Nyos had collapsed. In an exclusive interview with The Vanguard, Mr Fonye disclosed that he heard of the rumour on February 16, 2010 and on February 17, 2010. The next day he paid a visit to the site.
The regional delegate told The Vanguard that he found life quite normal in Nyos and the neighbouring villages. In some of the villages, surprisingly, he noticed that development was in the rise with so many new and modern buildings as well as an ebullient life style.
The regional delegate -geographic information production graduate from the International Institute of Aerospace Survey (IIAS) in The Netherlands- revealed that he went right to the lake and observed that part of the wall of the lake had actually suffered from erosion to the extent that it could engender such a false alarm.
This eroded and eroding wall, Mr Fonye insinuated, coupled with bush fires and erosion at the top of the hill above the lake, which had already reached the basement rock, constituted an imminent danger all the same.
Prior to his visit to the Lake some ‘Bamenda Intelligence’ agents had taken advantage of free publicity in some radio stations by phone to lambaste the delegate. However Mr Fonye says it was not this that urged him to go to the place: “It is my duty to see to it that nothing ugly happens within my ministerial jurisdiction without my prompt intervention,” he told The Vanguard.
Who is Mr Fonye Francis?
Mr Fonye Francis Wojela was appointed Provincial delegate of Environment and Nature Protection for the North West Province on March 11, 2005. Prior to his appointment to head this ministerial department in Bamenda he was Provincial Chief of Service for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in the, then, South West Province.
Upon his accession to office he immediately embarked on beautifying Bamenda City starting with the Commercial Avenue. Fonye Francis: “It is my dream that Bamenda Commercial Avenue should look like Quartier Domayo in Maroua, where, in the heart of the desert the place is adorned with trees that make it very cool that provide shade”
The trees planted included: Callistamore (bottle brushes), Acacia and Ficus eleganza. Most of this planting was done by the Delegate himself who would be spotted at the Commercial Avenue, Up Station hill or in the palaces, in his jeans, planting.
The tree-planting exercise was not however 100% success. Mr Fonye rates the success at about 70% since vandals and impatient drivers -in other words enemies of progress- have destroyed about 30% of the trees. In spite of measures taken to ensure the successful growth of the trees the vandals still succeeded in destroying the trees.
Measures put in place to avoid the destruction included: building fences around the young trees; allocating areas to the individual adjacent shops to care for the trees and collaborating with the Bamenda City Council.
But Mr Fonye regrets that the Council disappointed him most as the majority of the trees that were destroyed were in front of the Bamenda City Council Main Market where they have an office overlooking the area. Another area where there was high rate of destruction was the area in front of BICEC Bank. He has not given up. The 30% destroyed trees have to be replaced.
“We have identified trees that are resistant
and grow in unfriendly or hostile environments
like the Bamenda Commercial Avenue.
We shall repeat the 30%
to ensure the 100% success rate”
Away from the Bamenda Commercial Avenue, Mr Fonye waged a war against the perennial landslides on the Bamenda Station hill by planting eucalyptus trees. “Eucalyptus trees are not very environmental friendly but we planted them there because of their water absorbent qualities,” he said averting the next question The Vanguard would have asked. “The trees will absorb the so much subsoil water that constantly causes the landslides on the hill,” he concluded.
On Waste Management
The Delegation of Environment under Mr Fonye Francis has put up a merciless fight against waste management. Starting with a hitherto mountain of garbage along the GBHS Bamenda (Ntamulung) road he extended to the River Mezam dump site. The Ntamulung dump site has been converted into a very fertile farm, while the River Mezam site along the Bafut road has been pushed closer to the river side.
“We have been in constant touch with the Mayor of Bamenda III Council, Prince Pius Amandou,” says Mr Fonye. “His efforts, though not very effective, are praiseworthy. He regularly sends a van to go round collecting refuse.”
He revealed that he was working with the Mayor of Bamenda II, Mr Balick Fidelis Awah, to relocate the dump site at the Mezam River, “Which is really an eyesore”. This would be an inconvenience for scavengers who forage for electronic waste in particular. He told The Vanguard that some of these scavengers come right from the Western region.
Problems of waste management
Mr Fonye averred that the problems of waste management in town still persist. “We have not been able to address the problems of hospital waste, which, to an extent, is considered industrial waste. Most of the institutions we contacted were government institutions which lack basic waste disposal outfits like incinerators.”
He however admitted that the Mission and private hospitals are much better because they have their incinerators and dispose of their waste more carefully. Quizzed whether incinerators were too expensive to build the regional delegate said they were not too expensive. He said they were ready to lend such institutions technical support in building such incinerators.
Tree-planting in the Region
Mr Fonye explains that the tree-planting exercise by his ministry and the Ministry of Forestry, Wildlife and Fauna ‘has come fight the evil (outcome) of the environment, like: the adverse effects of climate change; desertification; landslides; depletion of the ozone layer; erosion, deforestation, etc.
“The two ministries are trying to plant only on government land like Council forests. This is because there are problems in the native areas where the inhabitants are sceptical that government might finally own their land,” explains Mr Fonye.
He dismisses this misconception stating that once the trees are planted on any person’s piece of land they automatically belong to him. “The intention is that eventually the trees will become the lungs of the environment -absorbing all the carbon dioxide that is emitted that cause global warming.
“When the trees become of age the inhabitants can exploit them for wood and timber,” he says. “They are their trees because they are planted on their land.” And it would be wise to replace the tree with a new young one.
He revealed that when this misconception was discovered he redesigned another plan. This was to plant trees but in the palaces. He then advertised the plan and so far trees have been planted in seven palaces in the North West. These palaces include: Kom, Nso, Bafut, Mbatu, Santa Mbei.
At the level of schools his delegation has planted trees in GBHS Atiela- Nkwen, GBHS Bamenda (Ntamulung) and GHS Njikwa in Momo Division. He commended Mr Bumu Martin Viyu, Principal of GBHS Njikwa for being instrumental in the planting. He regretted however that the ones in GBHS Bamenda (Ntamulung) never survived because of fire.
Fire disasters due to burning of hills
Mr Fonye regretted that it was really difficult to control it because the arsonists were hardly identifiable. Most of the burning takes place in the night when no one is around except the arsonists. He pointed an accusing finger at cattle breeder and women who burn farm beds, the action popularly known as ankara. He said the ministry was however not lax over the matter.
Lack of environmental impact assessment
In a general message to the public Mr Fonye blamed most of the environmental problems on lack of environmental impact assessment on the part of the citizens. “We have a principally agrarian economy but small industries are springing up but there is no environmental impact assessment,” he regretted.
The influx of small industries, he averred, constituted a potential danger if no environmental impact assessment was done. Citing the case of SOTRAMILK in Mile 3 Nkwen he said it collapsed because none or little environmental impact assessment was done before it was constructed.
“International Soap factory needs an environmental audit,” he said, adding, “if people need industries without environmental impact assessment it is not healthy.”
Other areas that needed environmental impact assessment included hotels, which spring up like mushrooms everyday, petrol stations which are being constructed or renovated.
The problems he averred do not face only the Region Bamenda. They extend to the other places in the region.
He classified environmental problems seasonally: dry season and rainy season. In the dry season the environmental problems constituted: bush fires, deforestation and wind erosion. During the rainy season: water erosion, soil creep, landslides, floods, thunderstorms and hurricanes.
Talking on future prospects Mr Fonye outlined the following. On waste management, he revealed that the ministry was coming up with Community Management strategies. On tree-planting he said government has created grants for ‘greening’ of the regions including the North West region.
Government is ready to support NGOs that have proven their worth in tree planting. The aim is to fight against the depletion of the ozone layer. This ongoing plan by government is in accordance with the Montreal Protocol on the management of the ozone layer to reach ‘zero tolerance’ level.
No more ozone layer depleting agents like Freon to be imported into Cameroon, neither will Cameroon export any such agents. “The vision is that of mitigating all the adverse effects of climate change,” Mr Fonye concluded.
From our news desk
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