Some environmentalists and residents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have advocated for the reintroduction of monthly sanitation and health inspectors to effectively clean up the environment.
They particularly condemned the environmental degradation and pollution caused by improper waste disposals by dumping of refuse along the roads, drainage, and in rivers, which had constituted eyesore to the environment in the FCT.
News Agency of Nigeria correspondents who went to some satellite towns such as Karu, Nyany-Mararba, Wuse, and Dutse observed that there were heaps of refuse in many places in the satellite towns, which had been constituting health hazards to residents of the towns.
Mr Emmanuel Yerima, an environmentalist called for reintroduction of monthly sanitation exercise and health inspectors to ensure dirt-free environment in Abuja and its environs.
Yerima, who is also a member of Nigeria Environmental Society (NES), said the reintroduction of monthly sanitation exercise would aid the efforts to evacuate the volume or the magnitude of waste released daily into the environment.
“There appears to be no serious organised programme for the proper management and disposal of wastes anymore in most parts of the country in spite of health effects among Nigerians.
“Take a look at Mararaba area and its environs, you will agree with me that volume of wastes generated from that axis is something else.
“Come to think of it, how do the people around there breathe when there is disgusting odor of decayed refuse at every corner of the road?
“There is serious need for us as a nation to go back to the olden days practice where we used to have sanitary inspectors and the general sanitation,“ he said.
The environmentalist, who said non evacuation of wastes posed health risk on the people, said that it was also capable of causing damage on the nation`s ecological systems.
“Burnt plastics for example produce toxic substances to the ground, which in turn can pollute the environment or contaminate the ground water.
“It, therefore, means when we reduce waste or handle it properly, it will reduce environmental impact, “ he said.
Mr Ignitius Alfred, a banker and a resident of Mararaba told NAN that in Mararaba that decomposing heaps of refuse had constituted health hazards to some people living areas such as Mararaba, Nyanyan and Karu, Karu local government areas in Nasarawa state.
According to him, the issue of refuse that litter every nook and cranny in Mararaba has become a great concern.
He said that the Karu Local Government authority needed to act fast because the area “is highly populated and can lead to outbreak of diseases’’.
According to him, Karu area is a gate way to many states such as Taraba, Kaduna, Bauchi, Maiduguri and Benue.
Mrs Ajoke Bello, a food vendor, said the heaps of refuse had blocked the drainage system, adding that anytime it rained there was always heavy flood.
According to her, it is worrisome because the rainy season is approaching and the authorities in charge are not showing any concern.
“Just go round Mararaba, Nyanyan and Karu from one street to another, refuse litters everywhere and nobody cares.
“Karu authorities are no longer doing anything to refuse collection, we are all at the mercy of the scavengers, popularly called “Babanbolas’’ or “Mesharas’’, boys using carts to carry refuse,’’ she said.
Bello said that there were only three waste collection vehicles serving the teaming population in whole local government.
She said that the dumpsites in the local government were inadequate to accommodate the enormous waste being generated.
According to her, in view of this, most residents end up throwing their refuse in the gutter leading to accumulation of refuse in many parts of Maraba, Nyayan and Karu and flooded anytime it rained.
“Indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the gutters and open defecation at every streets, parks and markets have become the order of the day.’’
Mallam Bature Bichi, a wheelbarrow trader, called on the authorities to redesign its system of refuse collection because it did not conform to modern methods.
“The collection and disposal method of refuse in the area is very crude and inimical to health and hygiene. So, there is urgent need to improve on it.
“If you visit the orange market and the abattoir, it is another eyesore and if there is outbreak of any disease, it will be difficult to curtail.
“At the abattoir, you will see heap of refuse in the stream that the meat sellers use in washing the cow skin popularly called `ponmo’,’’ he said.
According to him, there should be a strict measure to control the activities of the scavengers because in the process of looking for recycled items, they always end up scattering the refuse on the highways.
Bichi urged the authority to consider the health implications of the current situation of waste littered in all the satellite towns in the FCT.
One of the motor boys in Orange market told NAN on condition of anonymity that almost all the motor and errand boys in the area had no houses, adding that they slept in the market or any uncompleted building.
“Most of them bath and defecate in the gutter, any available places or in the stream where they wash the cow skin,’’ he said.
Mallam Audu Jubril, a driver, who urged government to address non evacuation of waste, added that it should find suitable dumpsites for the disposal of wastes.
According to him, managing waste disposal should be a major concern in the area and government is not too concern about the environmental implications.
“Since there are no laid down regulations regarding dumping of waste and as a result many individuals, residents and shop owners particularly, always dumped their refuse in the gutter when it rains.’’
He said that the effects of improper waste disposal could not be overlooked because when it accumulated, it would block the gutters and result in dangerous consequences on human health and the environment.
Jubril, who said a large number of people did not know how to properly dispose their waste, urged government to embark on sensitisation and provide more dump sites.
Mr Akin Omotola, an estate agent, who said the Karu Local Government Authority was short of ideas on refuse clearing, challenged stakeholders in the waste management to meet with authorities and worked out modalities for the clearing.
According to him, the waste generation rate depends on factors such as population density and the population of the area is ever increasing.
Omotola said waste collection, storage and transport were essential elements of waste generation but it had become a major challenge in the local government.
He said that waste collection should be left in the hands of the private individuals and bins should be provided for biodegradable and inert waste.
Omotola said that if waste management was well harnessed, it would create jobs opportunity and improve public health system.
“Karu local government should consider its ever growing population and consider embarking on Integrated Waste Management System for healthy leaving,’’ he said.
In related development, a resident in the Wuse Zone 6, Mr Cosmos Okonta, commended the FCT Administration for hygiene promotion, but was worried about why the private waste disposal companies visited only once a week.
Okonta urged the FCT administration to seek out ways to increase their days of refuse collection, saying this would reduce instances of waste littering in front of houses and polluting the entire environment.
At a visit to Area 10, UTC axis, it was a sorry sight as refuse was dumped indiscriminately, with smell of urine permeating the environment.
At the entrance of the popular Murg Plaza, shop owners complained of poor hygiene practice, noting that this has led to loss of some clients.
A printer, Mr Ayo Ishola, expressed worry that the authorities had not shown enough concern to hygiene promotion in the complex.
A NAN correspondent at the Wuse Axis observed that most drainage were cleaned, street sweepers went on with their responsibilities.
However, Mallam Muktar Ibrahim, the Head of Information and Outreach Unit, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) said that maintenance of city and market cleanliness was a joint responsibilities of AEPB, Abuja Market Management Ltd. (AMML) and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
Ibrahim, who said that AEPB was established to clean the city, said that it currently deployed 27 cleaning contractors in the 27 cleaning lots spread over the city centre.
“Plans are on ground to improve on the effectiveness of the contractors in these lots.
“In the next cleaning contract that is expected to come on stream in the next few months, the cleaning lots have been increased to 46 to ensure coverage of pockets of settlements within developed areas which are currently not covered in the current cleaning arrangement.
“Recently, AEPB also embarked on recovery and refurbishment of some of its damaged Ro-Ro bins located in certain strategic areas of the city notorious for generating high volume of waste,’’ Ibrahim said.
According to him, tenements without functional waste bins are being served abatement notices and being charged to court to compel them to procure one or replace the damaged ones that have become a nuisance to behold themselves.
“In the case of the markets, AEPB frequently offers support in the form of intervention exercises to clear pile-up of uncleared waste.
“But the responsibility of ensuring sanity in the markets is directly that of AMML and AMAC, especially in the Motor Parks where the presence of the latter is most pronounced.
“Generally, however, AEPB as the sole regulatory and interventionist body in the FCT cannot but extend its operations to those areas that are the exclusive preserve of other governmental agencies,’’ information officer said.
Edited by Grace Yussuf