Before Oyo State relapses into its dirty past

Posted by Mayowa Okekale | 27 February 2015 | 5,579 times

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In William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, he quipped: “What is a city but the people.” This, definitely, means that the people constitute an important element of a city which should not be overlooked. The people must be given priority in what could enhance the quality of their environment and improve their way of life, by relevant authorities.

Before now, in the history of Oyo State, there has been no government which prioritised the issue of environmental sanitation and beautification to the citizenry more than the present administration. Some secluded places like Oje, Beere and Molete areas of Ibadan metropolis were synonymous with dirt. But there was a twist, in the last three years, because of Governor Ajimobi's transformation move to better the physical appearance of the state, especially Ibadan, the capital.

There is no gainsaying that different attitudinal dispositions by people in the state may have contributed to what the state was known for, ranging from acclimatisation to poor drainage system; I-don’t-care attitude which accounts for indiscriminate refuse dumping in drainages, flowing water, canals, rivers, and poor sanitation. But all that are now things of the past. Such dirty habits in the past caused blockage of refuse that piled up perpetually in the drainage channels and, therefore, contributed to heavy flooding that the state witnessed in times past. Some folks regarded it as “refuse nuisance.” All these obviously have contributed to the bad reputation Ibadan had as a major commercial city in the country.

But, with the advent of Governor Abiola Ajimobi in 2011, this was one of the priorities of his administration, as he took a giant step in curtailing the insanitary condition of the state to the barest minimum.

Consequently, the situation witnessed a gradual, but noticeable change, with efforts to rid the state’s local communities of dirt given the constant disposal of domestic wastes, weekly, across the length and breadth of the state. Precisely, on Thursdays, people engage in an exercise of dumping their wastes in the provided waste-bins nearest to them.

Since the inception of this exercise, residents and waste managers have continued to echo this action as a welcome development. They devised a popular slogan used in giving kudos to the governor: Aare Atunluse. Now, heaps of refuse are being cleared from various homes and dumped into the waste disposal bins provided by the government.

These cans are spotted everywhere in many parts of the state; as they were placed in some strategic places for people to dump refuse into, an exercise which is really fast becoming a norm in the state. Definitely, it is safe to say that indiscriminate refuse disposal has become a thing of the past in the Pacesetter State. The state government says it’s equally doing everything possible to curb the outbreak of flooding in the area.

This waste management project, however, is usually being carried out by an agency: Oyo State Solid Waste Management Authority (OYOWMA). One of the duties of this agency is to perfectly manage and effectively evacuate refuse at areas which the waste bins are provided. But are these duties being performed up to the expectation of the people in the state?

One thing that is fast changing this trend of sanitation is the fact that the refuse are not properly being managed by the agency assigned the responsibility. The city is gradually going back to its old days, as un-disposed waste is claiming and taking over some places in the state. Of course, one could properly admit that the government has not provided enough waste bins and refuse trucks that could accommodate the waste, which people dump on a daily basis.

Currently, there is hardly any point of disposal in the state which one would not notice overflow of refuse, even along the roadside. Definitely, this has many consequences, aside the usually perceived horrible stench that emanate from the waste. Also, at every point, the overflow is being noticed; passers-by would have to cover their noses and mouths to avoid perceiving the offensive odour of the wastes, because of its hazard and other effects of the pollution to health.

Naturally, an average city dweller would want to know why those drums of refuse are abandoned and allowed to overflow; and, perhaps, the reason why prompt action is not being taken, if really the government is concerned about environmental sanitation in the state. It has also been observed that the labourers, who have been assigned to regularly evacuate the refuse, do not even come near some points on the environmental sanitation day in many parts of the state.

There is also a need to also take a look at another unpalatable exercise that creates chaos and commotion among road users, at some points where the workers are busy sanitising the spots.

The lesson which must be learnt from these scenarios is: If those refuse are packed on time and the points are sanitised, traffic congestion would not have been caused at these points. What should be taken into consideration is the timely clearing of wastes with the provided towing trucks, so as to meet the daily challenges of waste management in the metropolis. In some places where these refuse overflow are scattered on the ground, due to poor management, some residents usually resort to self-management by burning the waste. The appeal, therefore, is that government should work assiduously to make provision for more waste bins and towing trucks, with a view to enhancing sanitation of the state. The government of the state must also encourage foreign investors in the state; there must be clean atmosphere as well. There should be provision in the areas which these waste cans are lacking, and people should be enlightened on how to properly dispose their refuse in the provided cans.

During a visit to some areas where refuse collection points are provided, the people were united in their appeals to government and ways to contain the pollution. A resident of Ojoo area, Akinyele Local Government, Mr Tunde Ogundele, expressed dissatisfaction with the usual drums of refuse being sighted at the area. He said: "We have taken it upon ourselves to manage this waste. We burn them when they are too much because we don't see those people who are supposed to be burning them around frequently. We cannot shy away from that responsibility because of the effect of pollution. It is dangerous to our health in general. Just as you can see, they are too much."

Another resident (a trader) in Orogun area, who spoke on this development, Mrs Sandra Ukechukwu, admitted: “This is not the first time we are witnessing this. At least, anything that needs to be done must be done well and properly. This administration has started well, but should not spoil its achievement. The only thing that could bring solution to this problem is timely evacuation. The people that are in charge should perform their responsibilities on time.”

Another trader at the most populous market in the city, Bodija Market, who was afraid of her identity being revealed, blatantly stated: “This government is wicked. The governor himself understands the condition of this market, and we believe there should be proper monitoring of clearing of this waste. If they cannot be coming everyday to clear the dirts, let them provide many waste bins for us. When they come, they will meet it here and pack them.” The trader added: “We deal with food items here; a sight like this in the market place is horrible and, in fact, is really unheard of. The trucks are limited and the government knows about it. Government should, just for Christ sake, come to our aid in this market. In a place like this, they should be coming every day.”

Pictures show some of the overflowing refuse in the waste cans provided by the Oyo State government and mismanaged by the Oyo State Solid Waste Management Authority.

•Mayowa Okekale is the Oyo State Correspondent of News Express. Photo shows an over-flowing waste bin in Ibadan.

Source: News Express

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