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‘Neat Ibadan possible with sound waste management’
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Prior to 2011, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, wore the toga of one of the dirtiest cities in Nigeria. The verdict was given by some reputable international organisations and the Federal Ministry of Environment.
Findings revealed that the dirtiness caused some non-natural disasters such as cholera and regular flooding that had led to loss of several lives and property worth millions of naira in the sprawling metropolis.
But a major precipitator of the toga is the character of waste generation and indiscriminate dumping of garbage in the city. A visit to many parts of Ibadan metropolis such as Bodija, Beere, Sango, Oje, Sabo, Agodi, Moniya and so on lent credence to the status.
Barely three months into the first term of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, disaster struck in the state, especially Ibadan. It was the devastating flooding of August 2011 in which many lives were lost. Also, multi-million naira property were destroyed.
The incident prompted the government to set up a committee of eminent professionals to look into the immediate and remote causes of the perennial flooding problem. The committee fingered the solid waste menace as key culprit.
Ajimobi vowed to keep the state clean. To match words with action, the government invigorated the monthly environmental sanitation every last Saturday of the month and a weekly market sanitation on Thursdays.
The state Solid Waste Management Authority was empowered with vehicles, trashcans and road sweepers. Government also created refuse collection points and other logistics towards ensuring cleanliness of the state, especially Ibadan. The efforts yielded positive results. The state transited from being one of the dirtiest to one of the cleanest in the country. The beautification exercise also garnished the aesthetics of Ibadan.
From 2011 to 2014, Ibadan was adjudged as clean and the governor was commended for changing the status of the third largest city in Africa, after Cairo in Egypt and Johannesburg in South Africa.
However, the last quarter of 2014 witnessed the return of indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the Ibadan metropolis. Refuse receptacles were overloaded with wastes indiscriminately dropped by residents. The refuse even spilled several metres on the road.
Daily Sun gathered that government relaxed the policy at the 2015 general elections as a result of the second term ambition of the governor. In 2015, refuse receptacles placed at strategic places in the city were removed by the government. Subsequently, management of solid wastes in the city was contracted to a private firm.
Even, the Ajakanga waste-to-energy project launched by Ajimobi in the middle of 2015 in Oluyole Local Government Area made little impact. The project, sited at the Ajakanga Landfill, was expected to provide five megawatt waste-to-electricity production and was also expected to supply stable electricity to the Ajakanga and its surrounding communities.
Observers noted that there was no significant improvement in the attitude of residents of Ibadan, who continued to dump their wastes indiscriminately in public places. The private firm contracted by the government and local governments, as gathered, tried their best, but without a positive change of attitude by the people, the toga of dirtiness of Ibadan would not be a thing of the past.
In December 2016 and January 2017, it was reported that palpable fear of outbreak of contagious diseases gripped residents of Ibadan because refuse had over-ran major streets of the city. For days, residents reportedly lined up the median of the major roads with garbage and corpse of destitute. Major markets such as Oja’ba, Oje, Bodija and Aleshinloye were also affected.
The report of how dirty Ibadan was in December 2016 and January 2017 might have actually prompted the state governor to pay unscheduled visit to many places in the city last month to assess the development by himself.
During the visit, he read riot act to heads of local government administration and environmental health officers. He unequivocally said that no one would be allowed to set the state back into the infamous dirty era.
He declared his administration’s readiness to ensure strict enforcement of the state environmental law in order to keep Ibadan and the entire state clean. He was not happy with the delay in the evacuation of refuse on the median strips on some major roads in Ibadan.
Some days after the unscheduled visit, Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Chief Isaac Ishola, said total war against environmental offences would commence on February 1, 2017, warning residents to desist from indiscriminate dumping of wastes in public places or face the full wrath of the environmental laws.
He said the state had set up mobile courts and concluded all arrangements to start arresting and prosecuting anybody caught in any act of environmental offences.
A representative of the consulting firm handling waste management in the state, Lolade Oresanwo, said about 3.5 million metric tonnes of wastes are collected annually from the state.
The state environmental laws prescribes fine and jail terms for indiscriminate dumping of refuse, street trading, building structures on the waterways and under high-tension cables.
At each stop, the governor said he decided to lead the train to underscore the importance attached to the environmental sanitation and urban renewal flagship programmes of the administration.
The campaign took the governor and his team to markets in Bere, Oja Oba, Bode, Molete and Challenge. The campaign also continuec the following day to other areas of the state. The governor warned the traders and residents to desist from indiscriminate dumping of refuse, refuse burning and other violations of the state’s new sanitation laws. He vowed that violators would be brought to justice irrespective of their status.
Though full implementation of the laws eventually began on Monday February 6, 2017, Commissioner for Environment told Daily Sun that the sensitisation campaign would be done simultaneously with enforcement.
What should be done to ensure there is no break in the enforcement of environmental laws in the state?
According to Dr. Tade Oludayo, lecturer in the Department of Sociology, waste management is important in modern societies as it shows, in short and long term, the health of a city, community or any social space.
“A neat Ibadan is possible with sound waste management policy and depoliticised implementation of such policies,” he said.
He noted that it was possible to achieve a clean Ibadan, but the major challenge was its sustainability, hence he said there must be a political will to enforce environmental laws without bending the rules for political goals.
He enjoined residents to be ready to change positively and desist from dumping of waste in unapproved public places.
“The implications of a dirty city is huge on the social, health, mental, and aesthetics of the state. Corruption should also be checked in the process of enforcing the environmental laws,” he noted.