20 January 2013

Nigeria: The Return of Filth to Abuja City

Despite the efforts of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board to ensure that the FCT stays ahead of other cities in Nigeria in terms of beauty and cleanliness, it seems the effort has defied all logic as the Federal capital territory is gradually being overtaken by filth Uche Uduma reports.

The Federal Capital Territory Abuja, used to be adjudged one of the neatest cities on the continent and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. However, behind the beautiful edifices that adorn the city lies a pile of filth. While much efforts are being expended on cleaning major roads and expressways, most parts of the city are left in filth with all sorts of trash, rubbish, debris and junks littered indiscriminately on the roads and on the walkways.

The state of cleanliness in the FCT is such that overflowing dustbins with rubbish in the city centres are no longer an uncommon sight. A glaring display of this filth is seen beside Ecobank at Kado, a sprawling settlement in the city with gutter filled with all sorts of decaying junks and debris which reeks of an offensive stench. Moving further in to the city, one is welcomed with more unpleasant sights.

The dumpsite overflowing with rubbish opposite Mr Biggs Jabi is simply an eyesore. Also in Wuse market, garbage carelessly litters the streets, while heaps of waste are found at the exit gate of the market. Other areas that really need attention include Abia House, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Central District Area, the dustbins in front of this beautiful edifice is always overflowing with junks which litters carelessly in front of the complex. Just opposite the National Hajj commission also in Central District Area is another dump site that needs to be cleared as soon as possible.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, Mr Abdulfatai Tijjani, a lecturer, decried the deteriorating sanitation and waste management system in Abuja. According to him "Abuja is really losing its beauty, few years ago when Mallam El Rufai was the FCT Minister, Abuja was beautiful.

Lovely decorative flowers were planted everywhere, people dare not throw rubbish out from their vehicles, and you can never see waste littered on the streets but look at what is happening today, the beauty is all getting ruined, the beautiful flowers are dead due to lack of care and new ones are not planted. Apart from the fact that these wastes lying everywhere in the city pose serious health hazard, it also affects one's mood and psychology"

Another resident in Jabi, Mrs Christiana Idowu, also expressed her concerns over the poor sanitation in the FCT. She said "I used to think that issues of indiscriminate waste dumping is only seen in the surbubs however, seeing filths littered indiscriminately in my street has made me think twice.

Most compounds here do not have dustbins, sometimes, they simply drop their wastes in front of their houses for the scavengers to come and carry them, and in cases where they don't come, breeze will spread them all over the streets and there is no one to sweep the streets and this is not good enough. People should learn to take care of their environments as it affects their health. The government should raise the sanitation standard in the FCT by buying more waste bins, arresting or imposing fines on those that deface the environment.The government should also employ more people to sweep the streets."

Apart from the city centre that is getting dirtier by the day, more worrisome is the accumulation of filth, debris and rubbish in the satellite towns where the bulk of people living in Abuja reside. Apparently, the satellite towns seem to have been left behind in sanitation and waste management as the residents of those areas now live side by side with waste.

The residents simply empty their bins in gutters, roadsides, or in nearby bushes as the services of AEPB are not yet been extended to such areas.

Speaking with Leadership Sunday, the Head of Information and Outreach Programme, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, Joe Ukairo expressed the challenges encountered by the AEPB in keeping the FCT clean.

He said "During holidays, we usually have backlog of waste and we are handling that now, we are on top of it. We are aware of Abia House, Kebbi House and National Hajj Commission, however, AEPB is on it. We have already notified the contractors in charge of those places to mop up the places. Our major challenge is that people are not cooperating with us, most people don't have dust bins.

So, most of these places that have floor dumps, don't have adequate facilities and by the time the contractors get there, it will take them like some minutes to pack the waste into dust bins. It is not as if we are trying to push the blame on the people, but people have to do what they need to do. People need to have adequate dust bins to carry their waste so that the contractors can take them away, where this is not in place, you will also find that things are not going to work well."

"We also have the ability to prosecute such people who are defaulting. We are already compiling the list of private premises and business premises that don't have adequate dust bins that must contain these refuse, because if not, they will just scatter on the floor".

Mr. Ukairo further stated that the challenges of ensuring that the satellite areas are clean while pointing the commitment of the board to render better services.

"In Kado, along Karimo road, we do have one or two challenges around that area. What we have there is rural bins and the rural trucks are supposed to come and pick the refuse. But we are in short possession of that rural trucks because we only have one and it is the same rural truck that goes to Nyanaya, Karu, and Karimo. By the time the truck goes round the areas and come back, the refuse would have been filled to the brim.

But the procurement process for those extra rural trucks and rural bins is already in place. Then waste in Wuse market is as a result of roadside trading. The waste is around the market not inside the market and this is as a result of the hawkers and roadside traders there.

Roadside trading is illegal and where ever you have your business, you must have the legal right to do business there. We are rounding off strategies to dislodge those road side traders in wuse market. We have given them 72 hours to leave the market and the 72 hours ended today."

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