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Fear

Fear of epidemic

Residents in Aba cry out over dumpsite

Okey Sampson, Aba

You’re going to Good Morning market located at the Ngwa Road end of the Aba River popularly known as Waterside. For convenience sake, you decided to use the farther distance of Opobo Road in Ogbor Hill. At Emelogu junction, the air around whiffed. What could have brought about this sudden change? The stench?

A co-passenger drew your attention to a dumpsite down Emelogu Road, about quarter of a kilometre from where you were. On getting to the dumpsite itself, the stench was vile.

At the dumpsite to welcome any visitor is a rickety Earth-Moving Machine (EMM) battling boringly to push the surging refuse dumped at will by all kinds of wobbly trucks out from the road.

Narrating their plight, some residents of the area said shortly before Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was appointed Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) deputy manager for Aba zone in 2014, the place was overtaken by refuse which gave it the moniker, Emelogu Mountain, because of heaps of refuse. But the heaps of refuse were cleared by Ikpeazu to the admiration of people living within the vicinity.

According to the people, since late 2015, ASEPA returned to the area, using the borrow-pit that is surrounded by residential houses and three private nursery/primary schools as dumpsite which received hundreds of tonnes of refuse daily with its attendant health hazards particularly to the school children. It was their appeal that the dumpsite should be relocated to a safer place before epidemic breaks out in the area.

“We appeal to the governor to, at least, for the sake of these little school children who will be more vulnerable in the event of any epidemic outbreak, to direct ASEPA to relocate the dumpsite to a safer place,” they cried out.

A businessman and resident of the area, Mr Joseph Obi, was of the view that the refuse dump located in such a densely populated area could kill more persons than some dreaded diseases without the knowledge of residents.
“There is no way officials of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) will claim they do not know the health implications of the dumpsite remaining there.”

To him, if the place is to be turned into a permanent dumpsite, government should compensate property owners in the place to enable them relocate to other areas safe for habitation.
This advice he reasoned became imperative since the reek that continuously comes out of the site is constantly making life unbearable and horrible for residents.

He expressed fear that as the rain is gradually coming back, the hazardous emission could lead to an outbreak of cholera and other communicable diseases.

ASEPA Deputy General Manager in charge of Aba zone, Mr. Rowland Nwakamma, however, said his agency was doing everything possible to move the dumpsite away from the area.

“That dumpsite was not created today. It has been there for over ten years. The site is almost filled up and we have made plans for an alternative site at Osisioma, but we cannot leave that place without putting it in order. We are almost through with that dump site,” he said.

According to him, if the dumpsite is left the way it is now without sand filling it, it will create more problems.

“By the end of this year, we would have been out of that place. We are not the people that opened that site. If we leave that place open, people will continue to dump things there and that place will be a sorry sight. We must sand fill it before we leave there so that people will not even remember that something like that was there. We will fence that place at the end,” he assured.

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