State goverments of Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Katsina and Sokoto are taking measures to check the use of plastic materials and polythene to save the environment and protect public health, a check by News Agency of Nigeria reveals.
Officials of government in the various states agreed that the situation require proactive measures to save the environment from adverse effects of polythene and other non degradable materials littered all over.
In Kano, the state government said it would soon ban the use of polythene bags as part of efforts to check indiscriminate dumping of the material in waterways, drains and farmlands.
Alhaji Sha’aya’u Jibrin, the Director of Operations, Refuse Management and Sanitation Board, told NAN that the measure was necessary to check its adverse effects to the environment, specifically the drainage system and agricultural production.
He said “the growing level of pollution as a result of these materials is causing serious health hazards to residents, especially in the state capital.
“The board has a recycling plant which is about to be put to use to take care of polythene bags that are indiscriminately being disposed in the state.
“We want to use waste to generate wealth and increase the revenue base of the state and economic status.’’
Jibrin disclosed that the state also has a composting plant at Yamadawa in Dorayi, Gwale Local Government, where organic waste is being transformed to compost fertilizer.
He explained that materials for the compost fertilizer are spread in four locations in the state, namely:
‘Yan Rake market in Dala, Kumbotso and Ungogo local governments, as well as at Yankaba in Nasarawa Local Government .
The director said the state government has a number of tricycles, tractors and buckets, placed at strategic areas such as markets, hospitals and industries to ensure proper waste disposal.
He added that the state government would soon enter into partnership with international agencies and organisations, with a view to having an integrated waste management system, especially for Kano city.
Meanwhile, the government said it had employed no fewer than 4,902 persons as sanitary inspectors in the last four years as part of renewed measures to address various environmental sanitation challenges in the state.
The Senior Special Assistant, Sanitation Vanguards, Alhaji Jafaru Ahmed-Gwarzo, explained that out of the figure, 3,331 are working in the 44 local government areas of the state, while the
remaining 1,571 are under the Ministry of Health and that of Environment.
He said the sanitation vanguards are engaged to carry out house-to-house sanitary inspection to ensure that compounds are duly cleaned and sanitation maintained and sustained.
He explained that the sanitation vanguards, under the state’s Refuse Management and Sanitation Board (REMASAB) are expected to control indiscriminate dumping of waste in the state capital and other major towns.
“The sanitation vanguards are also engaged to make sure that streets and roads are kept tidy and to control unnecessary and illegal placement of goods, kiosks and temporary structures.
“They are to also control the operations of offensive businesses within residential compounds such as rearing of animals, birds, metal works, mechanics, small and large scale industries.’’
He said identified offenders were served with abatement notice, while abatement notices not complied with were usually referred to courts for necessary action.
The Director, Control in the state’s Ministry of Environment, Mr Mustapha Muhammed, attributed the indiscriminate disposal of polythene bags and plastics to the lack of awareness on government’s policies, poor knowledge of its harzards and pollution to the environment.
He said “when polythene bags and plastics are dumped into the river, it pollutes the water and kill the animals underneath.
“The presence of the two materials in any environment deter the penetration of water into the soil, thus tampering with agricultural capacity of the surface.’’
He explained that polythene and plastics also block the drains and lead to flood, thus endangering the lives and property of the people.
In Kaduna State, there is no waste management policy but Muazu Yusuf, Director, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, says the government is developing a new waste management policy to guide disposal of waste.
Yusuf explained that at the moment, the state’s environment law provides legal framework for waste management.
He said that in its effort to improve the wellbeing and cleanliness of the state, the ministry engaged services of new solid waste management company to address the challenge.
He added that solid waste management project is sensitive as it directly affects the health and wellbeing of residents.
“The company has been doing excellently well as it has rolled out service plans for the three senatorial zones of Kaduna central, North and South.
“The company would be covering four main areas – evacuation of waste to official dump sites, street cleaning and sweeping, vegetation control and desilting of drains.’’
NAN reports that plastics have toxic pollutants that damage the environment and cause land, water and air pollution and can take hundreds of years to break down, causing long lasting damage to the environment.
To address the effect of plastics and polythene waste, the director said that the state government facilitated the establishment of five plastic waste recycling plants by private firms in Kaduna North Local Government Area.
He said the state has a plastic recycling plant set up by Federal Ministry of Environment but not in operation.
He noted that contract was awarded for the purchase and installation of Double Blown Plastic Machine, which are now being installed.
“Plans are in top gear to complete and revive the plant this year to enable the contractor to commence waste-to-wealth project in the second phase of the waste management programme.”
He said the government had been sensitising the public on dangers of plastic bottles, bags and other items which would take years to decay.
“We want to ensure that all plastics found in the environment, especially within the Kaduna metropolis, are evacuated.’’
“It will not be wise to ban the use of plastics and polyethene bags without providing alternative on what to use.
“It is our hope that manufacturers and government will come up with an idea on how to replace plastic packing with biodegradable materials.’’
Yusuf said that the government would continue to sensitise the public until the state was free from plastic waste.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government is constructing a N550-million Integrated Waste Management Facility in Katsina State.
The Director, Waste Management and Pollution Control, Katsina State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Alhaji Imrana Idris-Nadabo, told NAN in Katsina that the project would be executed by the Ecological Fund Office.
He said that the state government had provided land for the project, which would be completed in eight months.
The contractor had already mobilised to site and the project would be the first of its kind in the country, Idris-Nadabo said.
The director explained that the facility would segregate rubber, scrap metals, used polythene bags, plastic materials and organic manure for recycling to other materials.
Idris-Nadabo says the agency generates about 28,300 tonnes of waste annually in Katsina metropolis and has provided containers for refuse collection in major towns across the state.
The Assistant Director, SEPA Environmental Research and Development unit, Alhaji Rabilu Garba, said “the agency evacuates 70 to 80 per cent of waste in the state.’’
He added that the agency employed 40 persons who engaged in manual segregation of waste at the three dump sites on the outskirts of Katsina metropolis.
According to him, after separating used polythene bags and other materials from the waste, the agency’s employees sell the organic manure at the rate of N5,000 per truck to interested farmers.
On his part, the Assistant Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Alhaji Hamza Sale, said that the state government had reviewed its environment law, in line with present realities.
He said that dumping waste in unauthorised places attract conviction with option of N5,000 fine and above, while dumping of hazardous chemicals attracts a fine of N1 million or imprisonment of three to 10 years.
Malam Sanusi Umar, the Head of Environmental Health Department, College of Health Sciences, Kankia, Katsina State, said that since the government had reviewed the environment law, it should also reintroduce the monthly environmental sanitation across the 34 local government areas of the state.
He suggested that house-to-house inspection should also be revived by the environmental health officers and abattoirs rehabilitated.
“SEPA should also strengthen public enlightenment to sensitise people on the importance of keeping their surroundings clean and impose penalties,’’ he said.
In Kebbi, waste recycling machines donated by Federal Government five years ago are yet to be installed.
Nasiru Argungu, Director of Environmental Health, said the utilisation of the facility would cut off 50 per cent of waste off the environment.
He added that “for more than five years, these two recycling machines have been here unused and we have them in all the 21 local government areas.
“They were provided by Federal Ministry of Environment during the last administration and nothing has been done about them since.
“Recycling with these machines can create new jobs for professionals and create a second market for recycled materials.
“It can also save 50 per cent waste and landfills and also save unnecessary dumps.’’
He lamented over the ineffectiveness of waste management in the state, adding that the ministry only transfer waste as there were no approved waste disposal fields in the state.
“We have no waste management policy as we are still using the environmental sanitation policy under the national waste management policy developed by the Federal Ministry of Environment in 2005.
“We only have one recycling plant established by a businessman, Alhaji Dantila Jega, from Jega Local Government Area, and he is trying his best in spite of the challenges and limited resources he has.’’
Argungu also revealed that there was only one registered waste manager in the state who collects waste for commercial purpose from banks.
“On the state of refuse, the refuse increases everyday as people buy goods in conventional and super markets.
“Anyone who buys goods will be given polythene bag and people also buy ‘pure’ water and plastic water on daily basis and as I said, we don’t have approved government land disposal sites.
“This is dangerous, especially when you see scavengers recollecting such things, while toxic like lead, mercury and cadmium leach into the soil and water, creating problems,” he said.
The director urged the state government to commence waste recycling as it provided proper handling and management of toxic substances.
The Director, Environmental Health, Alhaji Musa Dangana, told NAN that the state generates more than 100,000 tonnes of waste annually.
Dangana said the indiscriminate use of polythene bags and plastics were harmful to environment, but if properly utilised, might have economic value.
Haliru Muhammad, the Coordinator of National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in the state, pledged to assist the state urban development authority on solid waste management and urged the government to open designated dump sites for proper refuse disposal.
Haliru said NESREA would intensify awareness to the public on proper refuse disposal, sewage, drains and canal clearance, as well as proper refuse disposal.
On its part, Sokoto State Government said it would partner with relevant organisations in establishing waste recycling plants for employment generation and waste disposal.
Abdullahi Abubakar, Spokesman of the state’s Ministry of Environment told NAN that the government also planned to formulate new environmental waste policy to ensure proper waste management.
He noted that the government had not engaged waste managers yet.
The Head of Operations, NESREA, Malam Jibrin Kwankwaso, said “the agency is ready to partner state governments in finding efficient ways of handling polythene bags and other plastic waste through establishment of recycling systems.’’
Kwankwaso described indiscriminate disposal of polythene bags as alarming, considering its consequences on the environment.
According to him, polythene bags constitute great percentage of waste blocking waterways, thus causing flood and destruction.
He advised the state government to engage expert waste managers to utilise the waste materials by setting up recycling systems that could produce building tiles and other rubber materials.
“We can arrange scavengers to collect polythene bags and other waste for recycling as the initiative will provide employment and promote clean environments,’’ Kwankwaso said.
He explained that NESRIA was also involved in sanitation activities in the state, including the monthly sanitation exercise.
Prof. Faruk Umar-Zaki of Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto, described recycling as the best option for plastic and polythene waste.
Umar-Zaki said the substances belonged to non-biodegradables which were not consumed by animals nor do they decompose into the soil.
He attributed the quantum of plastic waste to poor organisational set up as people were allowed
to dump refuse without discipline to the appropriateness of their actions.
The lecturer said plastic and other non-degradable items needed to be categorised into containers to make it easier for collection, as obtained in advanced countries for use by recycling firms.
He said that at present, mini recycling process of plastic waste and polythene was ongoing in the department, producing cooking gas, petrol, diesel and others.
He said various researches were conducted in the area of plastic and polythene waste management for productive purposes in the society, but regretted that government and companies had not shown the required interest to invest in its utilisation for the good of all.
He advised schools to use organic and inorganic waste materials for science projects to help students to see the actual value of waste and promote recycling processes for environmental safety, as well as economic value.
The lecturer urged government to set up proper waste management value chain and increase public awareness on disposal procedures and discipline to make best use of the millions of tonnes of plastic and polythene materials causing havoc to the environment and human health.
In Zamfara, the government is introducing monthly sanitation and putting up new environment policy to drive environmental waste management, the state’s Director, Pollution Control, Shehu Anka, told NAN in Gusau.
Anka said that Gov. Bello Matawalle had discussed the issues during his recent meeting with permanent secretaries in the state.
The director quoted the governor as saying “we will give priority to environmental sanitation and waste water management to reduce the spread of mosquitoes and the burden of malaria.
“The issues of waste management and environmental sanitation are not limited to government alone, there is need for private partners to intervene.
“It is very unfortunate that only government is making efforts in environmental sanitation and waste management in Zamfara, government alone cannot provide all the required services to the public in this regard.
“We have over 900 street cleaners employed by the state government throughout the state who carry out roads sweeping, drains clearance and waste collection in Gusau, the state capital and headquarters of the remaining 13 local government areas.
“There is need for individuals and communities to embark on community sanitation to complement government’s efforts.’’
According to him, the state is committed to meeting up the target on guidelines of environmental health practice regulations.
The regulations are responsible for the implementation of policy guidelines on schools’ sanitation, sewage and water, waste management, as well as policy on pest and vector control.
Ibrahim Tudu, the state Coordinator, Zamfara Environmental Network, an NGO, said there was
low response from government at all levels in addressing environmental challenges in the state.
Tudu said the network is an umbrella of over 20 NGOs across the state, working on sanitation issues safer environment.
“We focus on major environmental issues such as sanitation, water, desertification, deforestation, waste management and climate change related issues.
He appealed to government at all levels to maximise efforts in addressing environmental challenges.
He said “it is sad that some states in the country are focusing on waste recycling but in Zamfara, we are still on sanitation and waste collection.’’