From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Residents of Karu village, Jikwoyi, Kurudu, Kpeyegi, and environs in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) of Abuja, are currently living in palpable panic and fear of epidemic outbreak, as a result of “mountain” of refuse heaps that have been unattended to, for several weeks.

Unfortunately, the refuse heaps are growing everyday beyond the available spaces provided for the heaps which undoubtedly, could have a devastating effect on their health and livelihood of the residents of these areas.

Sadly, neither the officials of FCT Administration, perhaps, through the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) nor the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) had attended to the growing refuse heaps which ought to their primary responsibilities.

More worrisome is the refuse dump between St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Karu village Central Mosque, which is growing speedily beyond expected, and it’s almost covering the only road through which commuters connect to Jikwoyi and beyond.

When Daily Sun visited the location, half of the two lane road that leads to Jikwoyi all through to Karshi has been occupied by the refuse, thus causing traffic obstruction particularly in the evening hours when thousands of commuters would be rushing home from work.

The situation worsens each time it rains, the road which is the only access road that leads to Karshi through Nyanya becomes impassable due to flood which would have no option but to occupy the road due to the blockage of drainages.

Activities of hundreds of scavengers and herdsmen have also worsened the situation. It was learnt that they move from house to house gathering refuse from people and dumping them at the site recklessly.

Daily Sun gathered that there might be breakdown in contract with people that in charge of waste evacuation in these locations, and that might be responsible for the prolonged abandonment of the waste.

Mohammed Mahmud, a resident of Karu village, said the growing refuse heap has become a serious threat to the community, stressing that there could be outbreak of epidemic if urgent action is taken by relevant people or organization. “You can see that the entire atmosphere has been polluted by the awful odour from the refuse heap.

“The oxygen in and around this place has been polluted. Our water for cooking and drinking might have also been contaminated because many people have are complaining of different ailments. Something should be done urgently,” he said.

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A resident of Kpeyegi, who identified himself as Abdulkareem Isah, expressed worries over the development, admitting that the prolonged abandonment of the refuse heaps was not in the culture of the people in charge.

He added: “Our lives are seriously under threat because of this mountain of refuse especially people that live or do their businesses at the junction where the refuse heap has grown beyond expected.

“It’s difficult to inhale clean air within and around Kpeyegi junction because the entire air space has been contaminated/polluted. Under normal circumstances, the refuse heaps are evacuated on daily basis but these days, it runs into several weeks without anyone attending to it.

“Obviously, our lives are in danger. We consistently live in fear of epidemic outbreak. We don’t have access to fresh air because we can’t open our windows due to the offensive odour that had saturated the air.”

Meanwhile, Dauda Garba, Deputy Director, Environmental Services, Satellite Town Development Department, said the contractors handling the waste evacuation withdrew their services because they were being owed for eight months.

“Our agreement was that we would pay them monthly for the services but that couldn’t happen for some reasons. However, we had meeting with them recently with the Minister in attendance, and some resolutions were reached. We agreed that three months payment should be made to them, and some of them have began to receive the money.

“The contractors have been asked to resume evacuation work, and they assured that the wastes would be evacuated before the end of the week. We are optimistic that they would keep to their promise,” he said.