The task of ridding Makurdi metropolis of waste burden

It’s a herculean task that appeared to have defied all solutions despite the efforts of successive administrations and the current one. DANIEL AGBO writes that attitudinal problem is the reason for the rise of garbage in Makurdi.

The challenge of indiscriminate dumping of wastes on the streets of Makurdi, the Benue state capital and other major towns within the state is beginning to raise concerns considering its devastating effects on the health of human beings and the environment.

The situation is now worsened by the mass production of sachet table water popularly known as ‘pure water’ from house-stead and factories. The menace posed by indiscriminate disposal of the containers, among other wastes on the streets and gutters, has remained unabated.

In most cases, refuse litter on road dividers in Wurukum, and High Level areas, and market locations of the state capital.

No single street of the city is left without a large deposit of the sachets including the streets linking government offices.

Private business premises are not left out as they are littered with used sachets of pure water and other refuse indiscriminately dumped by users.

A walk around the streets of Makurdi, reveals that 75 percent of the gutters are blocked thereby causing serious flooding problem in the metropolis.

The blocked gutters which if left unattended to could result in stagnant water. If not cleared, it could constitute a breeding ground for water-borne diseases and mosquitoes.

Most residents point accusing finger at the Benue State Environment and Sanitation Agency (BENSESA) which is vested with the responsibility of keeping the state clean.

Residents lament

According to some residents, the agency is not doing enough to address the issue of indiscriminate dumping of wastes.

Mr Godwin Awuhe, a resident of Gyado, a residence within the metropolis expressed worry over government’s reluctance to take care of the blocked gutters or the drainage system.

He lamented that most of the drainages have been blocked due to indiscriminate dumping of used sachets and other refuse. The situation, he said, is worsened by government’s inability to evacuate the refuse in some areas.

However, not only the government has a share of blame as the attitude of citizens in keeping a clean environment also comes in question.

Successive administrations in the state have made concerted efforts towards the proper management of wastes.

Previous attempts

 Blueprint learnt that shortly before he left office as governor, Gabriel Suswam, acquired some refuse buckets, vehicles and other equipment in order to ensure effective waste disposal and management in the state.

This was in addition to other equipment earlier procured by the government to assist in evacuation of wastes.

Blueprint also learnt that in order to sustain proper waste management and cleanliness of the state especially Makurdi, several vehicles of BENSESA and BERWASSA that were broken down were recovered, repaired and put to meaningful use by the Ortom government during his first tenure.

The government also completed and commissioned a mobile court to assist in the enforcement of sanitation laws on daily basis.

Mr Nathaniel Ikyur, one of the aides of the governor, along with his team also went round the city clearing the drainage system but despite these, the situation has remained for days running into weeks.

This led the governor to sack the former general managing of BENSESA and reappointed a new one.

The poor attitude of some people in the disposal of waste has also raised more concern as indiscriminate dumping of waste outside the designated points has become the order of the day.

Investigation shows that most offices, business premises and private residents do not possess refuse buckets and where they exist, they are hardly used.

This has made the state capital city very dirty and exposed to diseases associated with unclean environment. The situation has also constituted a good breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies.

More lamentations

Residents who spoke with Blueprint point accusing fingers at traders and other people who come out late at night to dump refuse on road dividers and other places.

They say government should order the sanitation task force to prevail or even impose stiff penalties on the residents in order to stop indiscriminate dumping.

Mrs Cecilia Manyam a resident of Wurukum, said most traders in Wurukum market dump wastes directly inside drainages or along the road thereby exposing residents around the affected areas to dangers of communicable diseases and infections.

She said the situation is what usually causes flood whenever rain falls heavily.

“In this market, there is no special place designated by government for traders to dump waste, so where people want they dump it.

“If you come to this market, you will see vegetables sellers and sellers of other perishable goods. When they get bad, they dump it wherever they want or leave it on the road for the sanitation people to come and evacuate,” she said.

 A resident of Katsina Ala street who simply gave his name as Felix, said government has not provided them with dust bins to properly disposed their refuse despite the noise that Makurdi would be made one of the cleanest in the country, saying most people leave their refuse on the road dividers because nobody comes to collect them if they leave it in their houses.

“Some of us have registered with BENSESA and have agreed to pay them a monthly stipend to evacuate the refuse. I paid them an initial fee of 1,000 naira but since that time, nobody has come here to collect the refuse. That is why you see most people going to dump on the road dividers for them to come and pick. If you complain, they would tell you they don’t have enough vehicles to move round the houses to evacuate the waste,” he said.

But speaking with Blueprint, the general manager of BENSESA, Mr Solomon Onah, said the state sanitation agency is encouraging individuals to have waste bins to dispose their refuse.

He noted that he has been calling the meeting of various associations, traders, market associations, printers, pharmaceutical and other stakeholders to enlighten them on the need to stop dumping wastes on road dividers but rather start using personal waste bins for the agency to go round their door steps and pick. He said the agency also wants to stop street trading.

“When people trade on the streets, they end up leaving a lot of wastes.

“We have also spoken with the pure water manufacturers association on how to manage their wastes.

“We made advocacy visit to the traditional ruler in charge of Makurdi, (Ter Makurdi); our aim is that the traditional institutions would also help us to speak in local languages so that the people can understand.

 “We are partnering with other stakeholders like the army to see how they can assist us in North Bank area.”

Onah further said the agency has decided to divide the state capital in various units to know how much waste is being generated by each unit in order to fashion out modalities for tackling them.

According to him, what led to the accumulation of wastes in most places is the absence of equipment, vans which the governor has already repaired, saying they would soon be fully put to use.

He stated that in Makurdi Modern Market, BENSESA is also collaborating with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Investment to coordinate the traders on the need to avoid indiscriminate dumping but to keep the place clean.

“The problem we have is indiscriminate dumping. We intend to enforce the law and if we catch you dumping waste where you are not supposed to dump them, we would fine you.

“We however discovered that fine for violators as provided in the Benue Sanitation Law passed in 2005 is so small. We want to review the law to conform to the current realities of waste management.

 “The fines are not enough to deter the violators, so we want to increase them so that if you violate and you are made to pay the fine, you won’t repeat it again.

“Our private contractors are also part of the challenge. They collect waste and dump it anyhow. We have banned them from operation and have asked them to come and re-register so that we would monitor and regulate them property,” he added.

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