REFUSE COLLECTION: RESIDENTS SCORE IKA COUNCIL CHAIRMAN ZERO, SAY ITS EXERCISE IN FUTILITY

 

Since
1999, when the present democratic experiment began, Nigerians at large have
been yearning for a change from the status quo towards an improvement in the
quality of living.From the very first tier, second
tier and to the third tier of governments, agitations for responsible
representation and leadership remain unabated among Nigerians.

            This is because, man by nature
desire comfort and happiness which is a direct product of the provision of
shelter, food and clothing. The government plays a major role in this regard
and in many regards as clean environment, security etc. Many state capitals in
Nigeria that were notorious for being dirty are vigorously trying to embrace
cleanliness, since a clean people and a decent environment engenders good
health. From Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Calabar to Abuja, the concept of having a clean
society has been embraced and pursued 
holistically.

            It
has been observed that whenever our people travel to other parts of the world
that are clean, throwing refuse indiscriminately is never part of them as
compared to when in Nigeria. Why? Like it has been said, the change is
gradually being pursued by those who believe in applying responsible leadership
in governance. Leadership by example has been proven to be the best kind. But
it takes a lot of zeal and dedication, more so, if the individual leading is a
stakeholder in any project. Just as we have the Nigeria project, we in this
part of the country have the Delta State project and we are all stakeholders.
Will this project succeed or will it fail? For now, the captain of this project
which must be sustained is Dr. Emmanuel Oduaghan, the Governor of Delta State
who has come up with a three point agenda. The part of the agenda in focus is
environmental sanitation.

            In
any community of civilized people, it is part of their inalienable right to
have good environment and any government that denies its people this
fundamental provision is short changing its people. The present constituted
local council committee members by implication have the peoples mandate since
they have been assigned responsibilities of the local council areas by a duly
constituted government.

            Since
the committees were inaugurated, the representatives in the two Ikas have been
working assiduously to endear themselves to the people. Many good projects have
been executed to meet the expectations of the people in Ika land. Princess
Ijenwa Okunonke of Ika Northeast and Engr. Andrew Obiazi are performing to the
admiration of majority of the residents of the local council areas. But a lot
need to be done in the area of waste management. The way waste is managed in
the two local government areas lives much to be desired because it has not been
sustained. The provision of waste bins positioned in strategic location is a
laudable thing that would have worked twenty years ago. The introduction of the
bins is well intended but it is exercise in futility. Had enough research and
study been carried out, a more pragmatic 
and sustainable solution would have been arrived at to tackle this
problem of refuse collection and management.

            It
is indeed an ugly sight wherever the bin is found. Our correspondent visited
several places where these bins are kept and to guage the feelings of  residents .To our dismay, the residents are
unhappy with the way the refuse bins are all 
maintained by the councils. We visited Owa Model Primary School, Boji Boji
Owa, Owanta/Uboh Street, Old Abraka Road near St. Agnes Nursary/Primary School,
Onyibe/ Abraka Road junction, Dein/ Orubor and Hill Streets, by Odili Primary
School,  Agbor  including Mariere by Ojeifo, Baleke, Upper
Queen Isede Street by Queen Street, Osuhon Street by Queen Street, Okunje
Street by Egun lane, Abude Street by Egun lane and Ojeifo Street by Ihioma
Primary School.

            The
situation is the same with bad odour, mosquitoes, coachroches, rodents all
over. The refuse at Ojeifo Street which is opposite Ihioma Primary School has
taken over half of the road. We gathered that in the mornings and afternoons
when the school children resumes and closes, cars, okadas and pupils jostle for
the ownership of the small part of the road since the other part has been taken
over by refuse now puring into the drainage. A welder who operates his business
close to the refuse point also complained that the odour emanating from the
refuse is impacting negatively on his business.

            The
bin at Hill Street shares the same wall with Odili Primary School with pupils
breathering bad odour. The headmistress of the school said that each time she
removes the bin, residents will put it back very close to the school which
makes the pupils and teachers uncomfortable.

            “It
is really disheartening, I plead with the government to relocate the bin for
the sake of our children “she said. The bin by Mariere / Ojeifo is sandwiched
by the PHCN and a church. One of the refuse point on Queen Street is beside
Charles Burr Primary School. The teachers and pupils are equally enduring the
hazard oozing out of the refuse.

            Dein
/Orubor Street which seems to be the worst, is in a mess with refuse gradually
making human and vehicular movements difficult.

            A
resident, Mrs. Ego Kamakao who lives at No 51 Baptist Mission Street, Boji-Boji
Owa said: “It is very appalling that before the introduction of the refuse
bins, my environment was much better than it is. I am appealing to the
government to find a lasting solution to this menace. “She also suggested the
introduction of private participation as a panacea to the problem.

            Another
resident of Queen street, Mr. Obi Okoh said: The local government have not done
their home work well “ before embarking on the project. The vehicles are only
two and the bins are too small. Refuse collection is a daily affair”.  In his opinion, the local government have
only succeeded in removing refuse from the gutter and dumping them on the
streets “With two vehicles covering the whole of Ika South, and one at Ika
North east, there is no way they can do much” he said. He further stated that
there was a certain day the vehicle came but the workers abandoned the place
because of human waste. He suggested private participation which will bring
competition like we have GLO, MTN, Zain etc. Government alone cannot cope
saying that before now there were some private participation in waste
collection and the area was cleaner. Miss Nkanu Bianka said that the idea of
puting bins in strategic places breeds filthy environment. She suggested that
the vehicles should come regularly on fixed days for collection. “Every body
should keep their refuse at home instead of messing up the area “she said.

            Comrade
Micheal Abiamuwe said: “The situation is so bad that we are crying to  the government and to those who can put
pressure on the local government to please come to our aid. The introduction of
the bin is a good innovation but the execution like the execution of almost
every project in Nigeria is bad. What we see now is disease. Speaking further,
he said, this is Dein Street, it should not be allowed to go into disrepute. We
are crying to the council to come and clear this refuse every week. This dump
site is generating mosquitoes, and diseases. The bin should either be completely
removed or they should intensify the weekly removal of waste. It does not speak
well of the local government. Before the introduction of this bins, we used to
pay a minimal amount to private refuse collectors. Whenever they come, they
ring  bell. We never kept refuse outside,
we always waited for them to come. During the last environmental sanitation
day, we expected the council vehicle, but they never showed up. Now we are
helpless and the whole area is smelling”.

            Another
resident who has been selling Okpo Oka in the last seven years, Madam Caroline
Osunbor begged the government to wake up to its responsibility or remove the
bin. She said that whenever she tells people to put refuse in bags, they always
quarrel with her as if the collectors are not humans. “I know government is
trying but this time, they have failed completely. They should admit it and
right the wrong “she said.

            She
went further to say that she is loosing customers because of the smell oozing
out of the refuse saying that even on environmental days, the council does not
remove refuse.

            Every
responsive government attends to the cry of its people. The local councils are
established to help the people leave a healthy live, but not so now with the
way the two Ika councils are going. Majority of the people do not appreciate
the refuse bins provided because the purpose for which it is intended has
failed. We spoke to Mr. Johnson Okoh, an expert on waste management who
advocated a complete departure from the way it is currently done. The good the
councils have done by providing the bins will never be appreciated because they
are putting a square peg in a round hole. Its either they are deliberately
failing or they do not know what they are doing. The councils do not need to
reinvent the wheel all they need do is send their representatives to learn the
rudiments and intricacies of waste management from states that have
successfully managed waste. The two councils can generate income removing the
burden off their neck. He went further to explain, “in the area of
communication, we used to have only Nitel, but now there are so many other
networks you may decide to use. Honestly, the two councils are trying to
deliver, but they will need to apply the same zeal to waste management as they
have in many other areas”. He suggested that the councils should limit their
refuse evacuation only to the markets and public schools and manage dump sites,
register private companies that have very sound vehicle and allocate them to
particular zones, enforce compliance and enforcement of payment;  impose fines on erring defaulters and seal up
residents where necessary. The private operators vehicle must be branded with
local council seal of authority: All houses registered under this new
arrangement must show proof of registration to local councils inspectors; the
whole process must be SELF LIQUIDATING he said. Everything must be done to
ensure that the councils succeed in carrying out their responsibilities to the
good people of Ikaland. Now is the time for experts in waste management who are
working in the council to wake up since we are all stakeholders in this IKA
PROJECT.

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