ITS harmattan and fire is burning everywhere either through careless handling of flame or the deliberate acts of bush burners. The act of setting bushes forests, weeds and grasses on fire is known as bush burning.
SOMETIMES bushes are burnt for functional reasons in which case, the bush burning is controlled. Farmers after clearing their farms in preparation for planting usually set the weeds and grasses cleared on fire to burn and clear. Sometimes, bushes are burnt for other reasons such as road construction building of houses, industries and settlements, including hunting. For whatever reasons human beings set bushes on fire, the truth remains that bush burning has adverse effects on the environment and on human beings either directly or indirectly.
APART from destroying both plants and homes , instance of such fires destroying communities abound, Similarly, it reduces soil fertility, while killing and forcing animals to migrate to other suitable surroundings. Destruction of economic trees and causing low crop yield are equally hallmark of bush burning . It also exposes the soil to erosion and desertification as it makes the soil so powdery and weak that it can no longer support plant growth.
ABOVE all, most fire out breaks that have destroyed property, homes, markets and industries, or taken lives and immense treasure have been results of bush burning over the years, especially during harmattan.
PENULTIMATE Sunday, an arm of the petrol station located between Governor’s office, Awka and the Anglican Church of Pentecost caught fire. The nearby church was filled to capacity with worshipers who were unaware of what was happening. There were cars parked near the fire. But for the efforts of the fire service personnel in Governor’s office, the flames would have got to the fuel dump of the station or to the church.
On Friday, January 5, an editorial staff of National Light, Mrs Uche Kalu and her family lost everything in their home to an inferno, caused by bush burners. Their home in Enugwu-Agidi, Njikoka LGA was burnt. Thestorey building was torched while they were away on holiday.
BUT for the intervention of some staff and neighbours, on December 26, 2016, National Light Newspaper nearly lost her main office building to an inferno attributed to bush burning. The fire razed the entire courtyard of the organisation.
ALSO around November, 2015, the home of one Otugo was torched. The family was completely rendered homeless by an afternoon fire that strayed from a nearby bush to burn down their four-bedroom bungalow in Umudu, Egbeugwu, Nimo, Njikoka LGA. The list is endless. No doubt, these families and many other victims of such fires have been thrown into serious economic hardships as their lifelong acquisitions are suddenly lost in a single incident. Similarly, the ecological damages caused by such fires are immense. The economic loss Is huge too.
IN the face of all these, activists, citizens, concerned non-governmental organizations and civil society bodies such as town unions, neighbourhood associations, collective market unions, along with governments at all levels should mount aggressive sensitisation campaigns to educate and enlighten people on the dangers of bush burning, especially during dry and harmattan seasons. This can be done through radio and TV jingles, posters, handbills, bill boards and even the use of town criers.
GOVERNMENT should be combat ready to respond promptly to any fire incident by equipping the fire service with modern fire fighting equipments, while other fire fighting outfits belonging to private and corporate bodies should be put in use in cases of fire emergencies.
INDIVIDUALS are advised to help save their neighbours and the entire nation of losses of resources by refraining from indiscriminate burning of bushes. Careless discard of cigarrete stubs, storing of inflamable liquids in markets, homes, shops, closed stalls and other public places should be avoided and punished where necessary. Easy search hunters should be warned and watched closely to spare the society the havoc they cause by bush burning. Those burning bushes to scout for animals should be made to refrain from such ac tions.