//Shola Ojo, Kaduna//
AS a result of ever influx of people into Kaduna, the political melt pot of Northern Nigeria, the State government is finding it difficult to manage tons of refuse generated on a daily basis by people resident in the State especially within Kaduna, the state capital and it’s metropolis.
Before the last administration, managing refuse within the state capital and two other major towns of Kafanchan and Zaria was never by any means an easy task because it keep increasing by seconds.
Worse is the manner and ways people overuse the designated refuse points with environmental friendly waste and cabbage collectors provided at many of these spots. Some development experts blames this on population explosion which Nigerian government and its citizens are not yet worried about.
It got so bad in some areas where people are making it looking like competition. This is because hills of refuse is competing favourably with people by overtaking one lane of the road, causing health and traffic hazards to the users. In Kaduna, areas worst hit including Anguwan Rimi, Tudun Wada, Sabon Tasha, Goni Gora, Kurmi Mashi, Anguwan Pama, Anguwan Baro, Tudun Nupawa, Nnamdi Azikiwe bypass, Rigasa, Kawo, Kigo and some parts of popular Ahmadu Bello Way.
Reports had it that the administration of Governor Nasir El-Rufai inherited a team of contractors saddled with the responsibility of clearing the state of refuse on a daily basis apart from general monthly environmental sanitation.
However, due to unpaid wages based on contractual agreement, they decided to embark on strike to drive home their plight after efforts to draw the attention of the government could not yield any positive results which eventually led to the contract been revoked by the state government. Though there was no reason given, but unofficial sources told Daily Sun that it was due to outrageous charges and duplication of responsibility by the contractors.
So, for months, people carelessly dump refuse virtually everywhere as this can be seen in less than every 500 metres or two to five minutes trek. Experts say even if the government ignore that task, it is the responsibility of the residents to manage their waste properly before government’s intervention even with their taxes because safer environment begins with individual.
Reacting, Commissioner, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Shehu Balarabe Giwa said, the State state government is developing ten transfer stations to ease the collection of cabbage and other waste from designated spots; six in Kaduna, three in Zaria and one in Kafanchan.
He added that his ministry job is to make the state clean, saying apart from the monthly general sanitation, the State has arranged for contractors who clear refuse from designated spots on a daily basis for the purpose of making the state safer health wise and to guide against flood especially now. We intend to maintain that even after the raining season.
“We have been on air begging our people to support the government in their own little way. Our people should understand that safer and cleaner environment we all yearn for begin with individual. We are to clear out premises, we are to clear our rooms and all that and safely tight our refuse/waste in polythene and take it to the nearest spot where it will be transferred to our dumping site.
“Like I said earlier, we have been urging people to please assist this government. People should change their attitude of going out at night and dump refuse on the road, colvets, drains. This apart from health implications, causes flooding.
“We are going to develop ten transfer stations to address the issue. We shall have six in Kaduna metropolis, three in Zaria and one in Kafanchan which of course, will go a long way to address this challenge. This government is capable of taking the state to the enviable position as evident in our policies. We are determined to make the state safer and cleaner. It is our job to make Kaduna clean”, added the commissioner.
However, the State government, through its House of Assembly, recently established what is known today as Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTELEA), part of whose responsibilities is to ensure clean environment.
KASTELEA was fashioned along the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), to watch closely and impose fines on violators of environmental cleanliness be it on the roads or within the communities.
On what the outfit is doing in terms of refuse management, General Manger of the Agency, Col. Abdulkadir Zubairu (rtd), urged citizens of the state to embrace the current wind of change and obey environmental rules.
When the state government took the decision to reorganise KASTELEA, her objective was to secure a properly-grounded agency with personnel who owed their employment to clear procedures, and with the requisite training to deliver the expected services.
According to the GM, “when people know the financial implication of what they are doing, they take precautions. On our own as partners in progress, we will do what the law that established the agency asked us to do. At the same time, people need to know that our coming is not to intimidate anyone. What we are saying is that obey the environmental laws and live peacefully.
“Anyone caught throwing refuse from moving vehicle will pay N1, 000 fine, none clearance of drainages in commercial and residential areas will attract N10, 000 and N5, 000 fine respectively among others. All what the state government is doing is to have a safer states which people themselves have a key role to play”.
A senior staff with Kaduna State Public Work Agency (KAPWA) who does not want to be named in print, suggested that government can do better in managing its waste by rewarding the people by a way of urging them to separate their refuse, some of which that can be easily converted into inorganic fertilizer, so they make money from it no matter how little.
He said, “with my number of years of experience, government has come and gone but the environment remains. Each of these government want to have different policies on effective manage to of environment. But its obvious, that has not been quite working. It would have been better to establish a system that will make it difficult for any government to come and toy with. This is where our lawmakers have job to do instead their robber stamp role many of them are currently playing in our democracy.
“Some of the designated point for refuse deposit and collection are no longer tenable because population had overtaken over 90 percent of them.
“I want to suggest that the authorities concerned like Ministry of environment, KAPWA, KASTELEA, State Assembly etc form a workable synergy to review environmental policy of the state with view to developing plan that will outlive every government. The review should be a continual thing like every two years.
“The social media is already awashed with pictures of indiscriminate dumping of refuse and that is not too good for the state that is trying to woo investors even though not everywhere is dirty. In some areas, the refuse has taken complete one lane of the road thereby distorting free flow of traffic. It not government business alone. What are we doing to help the government in our own little way. For example, if I decide to tie my waste in a sack and take it to collection point, it will be easier for those assigned to clear them. Charity they say begins at home”, he stated.
A Consultant with Development Communications, Bolaji Adepegba, hinged the difficulties in managing refuse across most of Nigerian cities on over population, saying it is one of the effect the unplanned population brings.
The communications expert said, “the issue of indiscriminate dumping of refuse by Nigerians is just one of those things we are not doing right. The reason is not far fetched, it is because the available resources (financial) to each state is not enough to manage the increasing number of people resident in these states. People are coming to cities maybe as a result of career, marriage, education and what have you. These people sometimes come from the grassroots of such state for greener pastures or from another state or even country.
“Look at prisons in Nigeria, several of them were built for a few hundreds of inmates. But today, the population is so high and so also the crime rate. We now have thousands of inmates justling for resources made for a few hundreds. We need to review so many things to conform with the reality of today and tomorrow.
“So, when we take a look at this development, people will come, settle down and begin to procreate without considering the already possible plan by government for their indigenes. In the long run, family will be expanded, many of whom are not sufficiently capable economic wise to manage their family and even how to manage wastes generated by such family became an issue.
“Now what do you think they will do, they will be using night cover to dispose their waste even when the government say ‘no dumping of refuse here’. At times, this is result of over population which is at geometric rate because of our high fertility rate.
“This is where government and developing partners need to intensify more campaign on Family planning. Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiatives (NURHI) is advocating child spacing for us. Government may also have to create new collection site outside the densely populated areas. These, if generally considered, would help the country and Kaduna State in particular a long way to manage not only environment, but other sectors of her economy that is posing a serious challenge to us”.
A contractor, who declined given his identity told this Correspondent that government has just approved his service in less than three weeks and may not be able to say much on wages even though it is executive secret. On his modus operandi, he said we have particular areas to cover include Bida road, Yakubu Gowon, Kanya roads among other.
“This is not the type of work person will be doing and not be paid as at when due. It has to do with packing of dirt which is dangerous to our health. So in as much as we are ready to do this, government should not delay our payment. People should also help us by carefully drop their refuse at designated spots and if possible, tie them in sacks so it make our work easier and faster.
Cross section of Kaduna residents who spoke to Arewa Reports said though there is improvement on evacuation by government lately, but denied the earlier claim by the authority that they evacuate refuse on a daily basis.
A commercial tricycle rider at Anguwan Pama axis of Sabon Tasha simply identified as Kolo lamented the neglect of the area, “this dirty you are seeing here has been like this for months. As you can see for yourself, it has overtaken half of the road. Whenever it rains, to pass through this place is difficult. But the good thing is that government is now waking up to her responsibility. They are trying but certainly not on daily basis. Sometimes twice or thrice in a week”.