Editorial: Governor Obiano: Declare State Of Emergency on Anambra Waste Management Issues Now
The issue of waste management in Anambra state continues to be a major socio-economic problem for many towns across the state, especially Nnewi, with many social commentaries written on the issue. Click here to view it.
Anambra state is the 10th most populated state in Nigeria and with the surging population; it is evident that waste management will continually be a growing environmental issue.
In more recent times, there is an influx of persons due to the boisterous economic effect of Nkwo Nnewi, the industries, the growing entrepreneurship base, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), unrest in the northern parts of the country and recent ban of motorcycle and tricycle in neighbouring towns and states.
Consequently, there is a gradual population explosion in Nnewi and the town is gradually attaining urbanization.
In the past week, some waste disposal points in Nnewi which are located at Eme court road Junction, Izuchukwu/Roundabout Junction, Nnewi High School/Nnobi Road, Ibeto Junction, and many others were left unattended to.
The dump-sites which are on major roads in the town are overflowing into the roads. The problem of waste in Anambra isn’t just about indiscriminate disposal by the public but also we have an ineffective agency in the Anambra state waste management agency (ASWAMA).
ASWAMA is the agency whose responsibility it is to oversee waste disposal in the state but it seems the agency has become a lap dog and carries out its responsibility when it feels like. A look at some major urban centers in the state shows how ASWAMA has slept on.
At Omagba Phase 1, it is no longer an eye-sour to see the heap of refuse in front of a beautifully painted four-story building. At Nkpor and Nnewi, it is a norm and the list goes on.
An article was written on how ASWAMA should take a cue from the Lagos state waste management agency (LAWMA) click here but the Anambra state government will have none of it. What kind of society are we if we don’t unlearn and relearn? We will still go ahead to render viable solutions we think may work in Nnewi and around the state if implemented.
Firstly we can adopt the Private Cart Operators (popularly called Kole-Kole) style, this is a situation whereby the state trucks can move around in communities for people to hand over their properly packed waste bags to the person behind the truck to dump in the truck which is immediately compressed/crushed to accommodate more waste.
Waste not properly packed should not be collected; this is to inculcate the habit of proper disposal on the citizenry. The trucks can move around twice a week on specific days and make sure they are on time. Even though this is almost a similar style adopted in Omagba phase 1 and some parts of Onitsha, but the implementation is still very poor.
If the waste disposal points around town will continue to be used, then the state needs to watch the indiscriminate dumping of waste, there should be an ASWAMA agent at every point, to ensure that no one disposes of waste without a waste bag and if such defaulter is found a fine should be imposed. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
These strategies will work when issues like state solely paying for waste management is addressed. The Anambra state government does partner with very few private companies to manage waste in the state but most of the time they rarely show up.
In one of anaedoonline.com interaction with one of the supervisors at Ibeto junction, he lamented that their truck had broken down for about three days which is why they couldn’t come around and there is only one truck serving about five points of waste dumps with no spare trucks; this is a weekly problem for them. Unconfirmed reports have it that the state sometimes is unable to meet up with payment obligations to the waste management companies, which hence stalls their job. This brings us to the critical question – Ndi Anambra will we pay for waste? This is an essential question that when we answer probably our waste issue will be half solved.
Our countrymen who live in other states like Lagos, Abuja, and Enugu pay for waste in their homes. We don’t necessarily have to pay as much as they do but we can start somewhere. The waste management industry is a multi-million industry which can employ youths and keep our drainages and environment clean if we will pay.
As stakeholders, we can also checkmate how our money is spent and who is employed when we can have a local government chairman of the people’s choice installed. The choice of an appointed transition chairman instead of an elected local government chairman has also contributed to this environmental menace; when you are elected by the people, the people’s problem will be close to your heart.
There has been a public outcry on waste management by the people of Nnewi but it has fallen on deaf ears. The government should also find ways of recycling wastes instead of dumping and burning them at Ugwu akpati Ozu, Umudim Nnewi. Let’s take a cue from Lagos, or our neighbours Enugu. The waste issue is both the fault of the public and the government, it is time to step up and do the needful.
While we continue to ponder if we should and will pay for waste, we urge the government to pay more attention to these waste points and drainages. Let us do the much we can do by using waste bags or sacks to pack our waste and the government agency ASWAMA to pack the waste in due time pending when a permanent solution is reached. Our environment and health are at risk if we continue to dump waste by the roadside and burn. Let’s go green.