Poor management bedeviled refuse disposal in Onitsha and Anambra state

by Emeka Chiakwelu

Discarded empty sachets of ‘pure water’ and solid waste are clogging the storm water drainages.

Governor Peter and his administration including Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA) are not pro-active in the collection and disposal of refuse in Anambra State in general and Onitsha in particular. Despite the restive public relation by his administration on pages of newspapers, the refuse disposal in Onitsha and Anambra State is not being executed properly and it is saddled with poor management. There is no doubt that Governor Peter Obi has been trying to come up with the policy and standard of operation for hauling the refuse and debris from homes and streets of Onitsha. But there are lapses, holes and vulnerabilities in his overall operation in the disposal of solid waste that hampered his unelaborated effort.

The whole truth is that solid waste disposal scheme is not functioning properly. The removals of the refuse from residential homes are not consistent but infrequent and inadequate.There is no established and consistent framework that will stipulate the frequency of trash removal be it once or twice in a week or biweekly. The problem with Obi’s administration is his inability to decide whether a taskforce/appointed contractors or the environmental commission ANSEPA is responsible for collection and environmental safe disposal of refuse and solid waste.

As you walk around or drive through nooks and corners of Onitsha there are still refuse and waste abandon on street corners and inside the drainage system. These are serious and have deteriorating health implications for the citizens living in close proximity to the massive littering and exposure to the rotten solid waste. These abandonments of decaying refuse are becoming the ideal center for breeding of both water and air borne diseases. In addition the trash deposit becomes a breeding ground for mosquito parasites that comes with malaria.

Apart from the deformation of environmental integrity, the unkempt image of heaped refuse and solid waste are blocking pedestrian pathways and the wastes have some detrimental effects on the ecosystem and the urban dwellers. This is why it is necessary that safe removal of waste must be given a highest priority and attended immediately with most serious attention.

The menace and severity of malaria and mosquito can be easily controlled by safe removal of refuse that filled the dirty aqueous potholes on the streets of Onitsha and roads of Anambra State. The urban dwellers derived their drinking water mostly from water boreholes and there are possibilities the residues of waste material could sipped into the water, thus injecting e-coli bacteria that causes cholera, diaherra and stomach upset.

The environmental pollution of the air becomes apparent when refuse and waste are allowed to decay further and commence to discharge some toxic gases that are harmful to human and the ecosystem. Apart from the pungent smell of abandon refuse, the emission of methane and nitrogenous gases from the decomposing refuse can cause serious medical mishaps to the residents of Onitsha and Anambra State.

Re-organization of management team is necessary
There must be a clear stipulation without confusion whose party or team is responsible for attending and removing of waste. The government of Anambra State has contracted some companies to go and make sure that inhabitants of Onitsha are paying their refuse disposal fees. But the objectives, modus operandi and operational responsibilities of the appointed contractors are not clearly defined. Are the contractors mandated to collect fees and if so on what ordinances are they acting on? In this case who will the people hold responsible when trash are not removed. The citizens of the state must be promptly informed on the fees they suppose to pay, the location for the payment and the type of containers that are needed for dumping their refuse.

Good Housekeeping must be adhered to
For the outcome of achieving a clean environment requires education and information on both ends – the government and the people. To keep the city clean and make littering a history in the state the people must be impacted with necessary information and the government officials must be familiar with the environmental ordinances and they must be equipped with the technical know-how to communicate effectively with the citizens. The information including the frequency of removal and what to do with other materials like bottles and plastic, oil, paints and others which are not essentially decaying materials. Instituting a policy for picking up refuse is more than providing a hauling truck but must involved a consistent planning and execution that ensures that trash are safely removed from the generated point to a recycling center and finally to an engineered landfill.

Best Management Practice (BMP) can be accomplished by trial and enhancement procedures
In Anambra State and Onitsha in particular the abandoned sachets of pure water are grossly littered across on the ground, ditches and gutters. Whenever it rains those empty sachets migrated into the streets and drainages. With a well established BMP, the methodology of collection can be re-visited and adjusted when necessary. The problem of not having an established standard of operation in Onitsha becomes self-evident when it rains resulting in massive over-flooding due to the blockage of drainage convergences by the waterproof polymers and solid wastes.

Governor Obi cannot afford to give lip service to the issue of refuse collection and disposal because the wellbeing of the residents of Onitsha and Anambra State will be greatly impacted by environmental degradation due to incompetence and dereliction of duty.

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