The vehicular traffic witnessed in the early hours of December 31, 2016 some metres away from the popular Oja’ ba market, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, was unimaginable at that hour of the day.
But when Nigerian Tribune was also trapped in the gridlock, got to the junction near the palace of the Olubadan, it was discovered that heaps of refuse dumped on the highway was a major contributory factor blocking the free movement of vehicles.
The scene, on further investigation, was the state of most of the major roads and public places in Ibadan metropolis. From Molete through Idi-Arere, Oja’ba, Beere to Aliwo down to Gate, refuse was a common sight either in the middle of the long dual carriage way or on the sidewalks.
Coming from Dugbe through Oke-Bola, Oke-Ado and back to Molete, the story of stink is not different. On the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, particularly at the axis called Sanyo, heavy waste is also indiscriminately dumped at different spots on the roadside, just as the same was experienced at Dikat junction, Ring road, Challenge, Orita and other major roads.
This development has since provoked talks among groups of worried residents, most of whom expressed fear of likely outbreak of epidemic in the city if urgent steps are not taken by the Ministry of Environment statutorily saddled with the responsibility of a clean state.
According to most of the respondents, the major concern is premised on the fact that market places such as Oja’ba, Bodija, Sango and others are not spared of the waste, which emit heavy odour and constitute health hazard to the customers who patronise such markets.
Mrs Kudira, who sells ponmo at Oja’ba, however, played down the health concerns associated, stating defiantly that she had no problem with the filth near the spot where she sells, owing to the fact that she did not have another means of livelihood and alternative place to sell.
The 42-year-old also added that, so far as she does not contribute to the refuse on the road, she has nothing to be worried about.
“We just came to the market last week and met these things here on the road. We had expected the waste disposal workers to come but we don’t know why they have not come. We expect the government to have done something about it.
“But when nothing is forthcoming, we have to live with it. After all, our customers know they need to wash whatever they buy very well before they eat them,” she told our correspondent in Yoruba language.
The indifference of the ponmo seller is a contrast to the embarrassment the filthy highways had caused one Mr Abiodun Alimi, a public servant.
Alimi particularly regretted his idea of inviting his friends from Lagos to spend Christmas holiday with him in his home town having been assured of the new face of Ibadan undertaken by the current administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
The man, who claimed to have spent his entire 54 years in Ibadan, gave kudos to the Governor whom he said had demonstrated his aversion for dirty environment and his determination to cleanse the city of filth on assumption of office in 2011.
He recalled that Governor Ajimobi’s blueprint contained a clear urban renewal scheme incorporating regular clearing of the streets of refuse in partnership with private waste disposal companies in Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Despite some remarkable success the project has so far recorded, the current state, according to Alimi, is a setback and indeed a failure of the project.
“It is a bad sight driving through the town and seeing these refuse everywhere. The town ought to have developed beyond its past status as the dirtiest city in Nigeria.
“Honestly, I was embarrassed during the Christmas holiday when my friends from Lagos were in town to celebrate with me. We went to a cinema at Sango but saw refuse almost everywhere we passed,” he said.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that while some perpetrators of the act throw their waste on the road in the night, there are others who even keep refuse inside their vehicles and throw them on the highways in broad daylight with impunity.
But Mr Adesina Bode-Animasahun, a retiree and indigene of Ibadan offered an insight into the problem, pointing out that the physical structure of the metropolis made it difficult to have a completely clean environment.
He said the clustered houses in parts of Ibadan lacked waste disposal methods and even toilets to ensure an environmentally-friendly city. This reason, he insisted, made indiscriminate dumping of refuse into available spaces, including canals, a habit they cannot do away with.
“If government is really serious about making Ibadan clean, it has to be decisive. It has to be more serious and stricter in enforcing environment laws. That is what the government needs to do. People don’t care what happens thereafter. What concerns them is to do what pleases them.
“But I believe the situation is not beyond redemption. Government should also find a way of mass reconstruction of the shanty areas to make way for a new environment where basic amenities where keeping and disposing waste would be easily accessible,” he advised.
Speaking on the situation, the state Commissioner for Environment, Isaac Isola, told Nigerian Tribune that residents should be blamed, considering their lackadaisical attitude towards hygiene in the state.
According to him, “It is unfortunate that our people like their old ways. But it is our responsibility as a government to ensure strict enforcement of environmental laws. And that is what we are about to do now. We cannot fold our arms and allow these people to take us back.
“Our monitoring teams are out already to assess things. But be assured we are going all out to deal decisively with the situation.”
Speaking further, the government official who craved anonymity stated that, “It is certain now that some undesirable elements are hell-bent on frustrating this government. This is a government that is already attracting investors into the state with its urban renewal policy, most especially the focus on changing the face of Ibadan from what it used to be.
“The Governor is not happy with this and he does not hide it. Although he has not discussed the issue publicly, we know that any moment from now, he would make a statement that would affect the people concerned on this problem.”
A traffic warden at the popular Oke-Ado market junction, who craved anonymity, could not hide his frustration at the heap of refuse dumped near his post. The outspoken officer lamented that he could not ascertain the state of his health given the offensive odour that he daily inhale from his duty post.
When asked on his reaction to the people who indiscriminately drop the waste, he said his duty specifications did not extend to enforcement of environmental law. He further added that he could have even incurred the wrath of the perpetrators of the act when he attempted to stop them.
Dumping of refuse, he maintained, is a common occurrence at the spot and beyond whenever the waste disposal vehicles did not come to clear the waste as at when due.
Speaking on his health, he stated that “I always feel dizzy even before I get home and I know the refuse dump close to me here is responsible for this. I am calling on the appropriate authorities to empower environmental sanitation agents to be more active in dealing with the people who dump refuse on the road.
“This is not the only place, even along the road to my residence at Ajeigbe, there are heaps of refuse on the road.”
As the officer pointed out, further findings revealed that waste disposal vehicles regularly visited dedicated spots to clear the refuse. It was gathered that the refuse disposal vehicles were regularly faced with an uncooperative public which usually defaced the spots.
“We have found out that these people would always return to the roads the moments the vehicles leave the area. It is very bad. But we are going to spend this year doing battle with them without looking back. This morning I saw some workers already parking the refuse and I am sure we will not return to what we had during the yuletide,” another government source disclosed.
Lesley Rushton of the MRC Institute for Environment and Health, United Kingdom, in a paper published by the British Medical Bulletin, Volume 68, stated that “Despite methodological limitations, epidemiological studies worldwide have demonstrated considerable consistency of findings with regard to the association of particle exposure and acute health effects such as increased overall mortality and emergency hospital admissions, particularly cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and morbidity. Effects appear to be more severe in susceptible groups such as children, the elderly, or those with chronic conditions such as asthma or pre-existing cardiovascular disease.”
Source: Nigerian Tribune