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Tremor Tension | TheNation

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•Kaduna incident is indication that we must build capacity for emergencies

Naturally, the earth tremors that occurred on two consecutive days in Kaduna State raised questions about the country’s seismological capacity. Although the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) responded with a reassuring statement, the reassurance was not enough.

The agency referred to “an on-the-spot assessment as well as survey investigation” carried out by the Centre for Geodesy and Geo-dynamics: “The reports have established that the incidents were recorded in Kwoi and surrounding villages of Nok, Sanbah and Chori in Jama’a council on Sunday, September 11 and Monday, September 12. The current findings are outcomes of a preliminary report by the team of experts deployed to the affected communities.” It also said: ”The reports showed the time of occurrence and intensities of the locations as reported by residents, which included cracks on building walls, falling off of ceiling fans and other items.”

While the public anxiously awaits more information on the fear-provoking tremors, which the agency has promised to release “as soon as investigation is completed,” it is curious that the Interim Chairman of Jama’a council, Mr. Ben Kure, was quoted as saying their magnitude was exaggerated.

No matter how the occurrences are downplayed, perhaps in an effort to douse public tension, it is certainly no exaggeration to observe that they might be a signal to something much more serious and devastating. Thankfully, this time the damage was minimal and there were no fatalities. The reality is that a tremor is a small earthquake, an earthquake of low intensity that might be followed by a full-scale earthquake.

This concern is particularly significant, considering that it has been noted that Kaduna State is “not on a major fault line or active tectonic plate.” Why the earth tremors occurred in such a supposedly unlikely place, therefore, is a question begging for an answer.

This is why the relevant bodies should spare no effort in getting to the bottom of the matter, and the relevant authorities should ensure that appropriate measures are put in place for public safety in the event of such potentially life-threatening seismic occurrences.

Although Nigeria is not located within the world’s major seismic zones, it is noteworthy that the country has its own history of minor seismic events. A report said: “The first widely reported occurrence of an earth tremor in Nigeria was in 1933. Other events were reported in 1939, 1964, 1984, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2006…Of these, only the 1984, 1990, 1994 and 2000 events were instrumentally recorded.” It added: “When these events occurred, there were no functional seismological observatories in Nigeria. However, that has now changed with the establishment of a seismographic network managed by the Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics (CGG), Toro, Nigeria.”

The evidence of change in the important area of seismological observation must be evident. It goes without saying that in a scientific age with an advanced scientific capacity, there is no excuse for failure in the area of seismological monitoring.

It is a cause for concern that, based on studies, experts have warned of “the possibility of experiencing earthquake disaster” in some areas of the country, specifically, Port-Harcourt, Warri, Bayelsa State, Cross River State and Oyo State. Indeed, there have been reported tremors in Oyo, Bayelsa and Rivers states in recent times.

The bottom line is that the country is exposed to seismic risks and may not be completely seismically safe. What is to be done beyond rigorous observation and monitoring of seismological data must include capacity building for prompt and effective emergency response, just in case Nature strikes.

This concern is particularly significant, considering that it has been noted that Kaduna State is “not on a major fault line or active tectonic plate.” Why the earth tremors occurred in such a supposedly unlikely place, therefore, is a question begging for an answer.

This is why the relevant bodies should spare no effort in getting to the bottom of the matter, and the relevant authorities should ensure that appropriate measures are put in place for public safety in the event of such potentially life-threatening seismic occurrences.

Although Nigeria is not located within the world’s major seismic zones, it is noteworthy that the country has its own history of minor seismic events. A report said: “The first widely reported occurrence of an earth tremor in Nigeria was in 1933. Other events were reported in 1939, 1964, 1984, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2006…Of these, only the 1984, 1990, 1994 and 2000 events were instrumentally recorded.” It added: “When these events occurred, there were no functional seismological observatories in Nigeria. However, that has now changed with the establishment of a seismographic network managed by the Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics (CGG), Toro, Nigeria.”

The evidence of change in the important area of seismological observation must be evident. It goes without saying that in a scientific age with an advanced scientific capacity, there is no excuse for failure in the area of seismological monitoring.

It is a cause for concern that, based on studies, experts have warned of “the possibility of experiencing earthquake disaster” in some areas of the country, specifically, Port-Harcourt, Warri, Bayelsa State, Cross River State and Oyo State. Indeed, there have been reported tremors in Oyo, Bayelsa and Rivers states in recent times.

The bottom line is that the country is exposed to seismic risks and may not be completely seismically safe. What is to be done beyond rigorous observation and monitoring of seismological data must include capacity building for prompt and effective emergency response, just in case Nature strikes.

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