Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 2 December 2015 | 3,935 times
Abia State Government plans to roll out an integrated environmental policy with the overall objective of making her citizen imbibe the culture of keeping their environment clean at all times.
Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Barr Gab Igboko, dropped this hint while briefing newsmen in Umuahia yesterday on why government shifted the monthly sanitation exercise in the state from 9-11.30 a.m. on the last Saturday of every month instead of the usual 7-10:00 a.m.
Igboko assured that the Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration in Abia is favourably disposed to promoting a clean environment that would impact positively on the health of the citizenry.
“We are doing a lot in the ministry. In about three months now, we will come out with an integrated environmental concept that will include refuse, environmental pollution and environmental degradation. I promise you that Abians will see a great change in the positive direction in environmental concept in this state,” Igboko said.
Dismissing insinuations in some quarters that the time for environmental sanitation in Abia was shifted to 9am to favour Sabbatarians who worship on Saturdays – Governor Ikpeazu is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church – the commissioner explained that the shift was in consideration of requests from critical stakeholders.
His words: “If it favours Sabbath, is there anything wrong? If we have 900 religious sects and a policy favoured 888 and one day, the policy includes one, has it disenfranchised any other religious sect in favour of one?
“Before last Saturday’s sanitation exercise, the State Government had some requests that have been pending. We had a strategic meeting and reviewed what the requests were and how they could be accommodated for the best interest of the generality of the public, but more, because you can never satisfy every person, and we came up with this idea, because the thing every person was hammering on was the starting time.
“In more sophisticated communities, we have recorded a lot of mishaps and those mishaps unfortunately have started creeping into Umuahia. I had a niece that fall victim. As one of the essential service workers, she needed to get to her work place before 7am and was attacked by hoodlums who took advantage of this you-must-get-to-wherever-you-are-going-to-before-or-by 7am.
“So, depending on where you are coming from, some people leave their homes by 4:30 a.m. or 5am and, of course, you know what happens when you are traversing at that ungodly time.”
Apart from those on essential duties, he said some residents prefer to go their places of businesses like markets and offices to perform the sanitation but do not have the time to get to those places before 7am.
“We said being a responsive government, a listening government, particularly the man at the helm of government, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, is a people-sensitive governor, he called us, we are a team and we started exchanging ideas and in the end we came out with what we think for now will be the best. Give these people two hours to get to their destinations, when they will be in their respective places of vocation.”
Igboko equally argued that the environmental law permits the governor and the government the liberty to choose the day and time an environmental sanitation should hold, as the law “didn’t specify whether it should be Saturday, Sunday or Friday; it didn’t even state the time from which an environmental cleaning exercise should be carried out.”
“With that oscillation that the governor have, we said okay, to accommodate the general interest of people who have to move from point A to point B on such days, give them two hours to get there,” he further said.
Igboko said the sanitation time was also reduced from three hours to two and half for the months of November and December.
He expressed happiness that the last sanitation exercise witnessed massive participation, particularly in Aba. He assured that if Abians imbibed the sanitation culture, the sanitation exercise would be reviewed down to two hours and subsequently, an hour, until the reviews suit the greatest number of people.
“In fact, the governor said if within six and nine months, Abians really imbibe this culture they way we want to preach it, there would be no compulsory exercise in Abia State. Abia will be the litmus state,” he disclosed.
The commissioner assured that government would ensure that certain infrastructure like bins and trash bags were displayed at strategic locations, even in commercial vehicles and motor parks, so that people, while they are imbibing the culture, would now know where to go and drop whatever they have.
•Photo shows Abia Commissioner for Environment, Barr. Gab Igboko, during the press briefing.
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