An epidemic may hit the Federal Capital Territory Abuja anytime soon because the contractor handling the maintenance of the Wupa Waste Treatment Plant, Abuja's central sewage collection plant, has abandoned his job, citing non-payment of allowances.
There are fears that residents of Wupa in AMAC and neighbouring villages could be at risk of air and water-borne infections if their water sources were contaminated by pollution from the treatment plan.
The plant, which sits on a land mass of 21 hectares, was built at a cost of N11.9 billion by an Israeli company, SCC, and has the capacity to serve about 700,000 residents with provision for expansion to accommodate growth.
The plant, which is the central sewage collection point for Abuja, as designed in the Abuja Master Plan, was commissioned by former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007, one month before he left office.
The contractor handling the treatment of waste at the plant has deserted it for about one week now. A source at the plant, who spoke with LEADERSHIP exclusively, said the contractor who was engaged on a two-year contract for the treatment of waste water at the plant had left the site because he was being owed payment. "The contractor was engaged for a contract of two years after they completed the plant and their contract is due by April 2013, but they have not been paid for over one year now," the source said. "The contractor left and withdrew his staff, saying he could not continue to use his finances to work at the site as it was putting a strain on his resources."
He further explained that there was also the fear of diseases, as the water sources of surrounding villages may be affected as a result of waste water flowing into their streams and wells.
The source explained that the FCT Administration was responsible for the payment of the contractor through the supervising agency, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).
The plant collects sewage and purifies it through the treatment plants so that, by the time debris are removed, water is allowed to flow back to the stream.
The processing is done in two stages. The first stage takes care of screening and separation of large particles from the sewage, while the second stage takes care of decongestion and treatment of the sewage.
When purifying the sewage, the water can either be allowed to flow back to the stream for watering plants and other things, or directed to the dam for further treatment for drinking.
When LEADERSHIP correspondent visited the area, it was observed that the environment had already been polluted by stench coming from the plant.
Residents of AEPB Plant Quarters, within the plant, expressed dismay at the situation, saying they were worried over their health and called on the FCT Administration to see to the timely resolution of the problem so that the contractor could return to site. "As you can see, we are already finding it difficult to stay in our houses because of the odour from the plant. If by the end of this week nothing is done about the issue, I will be forced to relocate my family till the issue is resolved," a source said.
LEADERSHIP was however unable to reach the AEPB for comments on the matter as calls placed to the mobile number of the head, information and outreach programmes of the AEPB, Mr. Joe Ukairo, were not responded to just as a text message sent to him was not replied.