Fears of possible epidemic looms in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as heaps of refuse now compete for scarce space with residents, both at the city centre and surrounding satellite towns.
Residents have continued to express worries that for sometimes now, the number of refuse dumps on the streets and major access roads have increased in geometric progression, with little or no efforts at evacuating them.
In the highbrow area of Guzape District, stinking refuse dump has claimed one lane of a major road, close to the INEC commissioner’s quarters.
Investigation also showed that in Asokoro, where most of the state governments have their multi-billion naira governors lodges located, there is hardly a street where there is no refuse dumps.
The situation is even more terrible in satellite towns, like Lugbe, Karu, Kubwa, Deidei, Mpape, Gwagwalada and Nyanya were traders display their goods, including vegetable and fruits close to smelling refuse dumps and in some cases, right on those dumps.
More disturbing to residents, is the fact that the director of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Abubakar Alhassan, who should have been at the forefront of the city sanitation, was said to be busy moving official files around, as he has just three weeks to his statutory retirement from the civil service.
A close source in AEPB said the director is not interested in pushing the overdue payment files of the cleaning contractors, which is the major reason for the increasing refuse dumps on the streets, but has been more proactive in processing his retirement benefits.
While the AEPB’s deputy director, Information, Janet Peni, has been very elusive on the issue, another source in the office of FCT administration’s permanent secretary, noted that the director who comes to see the permanent secretary regularly, is more inclined to transactions that satisfies his selfish interest, than talking about how the contractors will be paid.
One of the waste management contractors who pleaded anonymity, stated that evacuation of refuse has been very slow, following delays in payment.
The man lamented that most of the contractors have been frustrated and over stressed, because they now borrow money to pay workers and some categories of workers who are not comfortable with the delayed payment, have stopped coming to work.
The contractor said, “It is only few street sweepers who accept a token from their wages, that are still coming to work, while the truck drivers who evacuate dumps from streets had downed tools to protest delays in their payment schedule. “