Poor waste disposal and management in Ibadan metropolis, the capital city of Oyo State, has been a conundrum faced by successive administrations in the state as the menace continues to be an unwanted image of the largest city in the West African sub-region. Aside from the physical defacement of the environment, the poor culture of proper waste disposal and management had been linked to flood disasters that had ravaged the city in the past. The 1980 flood disaster, now popularly referred to in Yoruba as “Omiyale” and the August 12, 2011 flood which hit the city like an atomic bomb will go down as the worst in the history of the state. Sadly, lives and property worth billions of naira were lost to the tragic and avoidable incidents. The 2011 disaster prompted the then governor, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi to declare every Thursday as Sanitation Day throughout the state with a strong campaign against residents blocking waterways with heaps of refuse. The policy was to also promote the culture of proper waste disposal and management in the state with the aim of having a beautiful environment friendly with residents and prospective investors.
Despite the sanitation exercise on Thursdays and the last Saturday of every month, waste disposal and management continue to be a major challenge in the city. A tour of the major roads in the city will expose the tourist to the reality of a fundamental problem attached to waste disposal and management in the ancient city. The median strips of dualized roads within the metropolis, which separate two lanes of opposite-direction traffic have hitherto been turned to “mini dumpsites” by residents.
Our correspondent, who went round some areas in the city, saw heaps of refuse dumped on the median strips of the roads by residents who do not have garbage bins at their homes, while those who have wait endlessly for waste collectors to evacuate. In our findings, the flash points are areas where markets are located. For example, our correspondent who visited Orita-Challenge area saw a ‘long queue’ of heaps of refuse on the road median suspected to have been deposited by traders at Adelabu Shopping Complex and other complexes in the densely populated area. The refuse generated acrid smell and defaced the newly dualised road which connects Ijebu-Ode/Old Lagos road. The Politico gathered that the refuse were always deposited at night or early in the morning for the Oyo Waste Management Agency officials to evacuate.
An inspection of the complex which houses over 500 stores and countless number of unofficial trading points showed that the big commercial centre does not have a designated point for refuse disposal where it would be easily evacuated by OYWMA.
Findings showed that most of the markets in the metropolis face the same challenge, hence the traders ‘anointed’ median strips as an alternative. Also, many houses in residential areas lack waste bins which further compound the problem of indiscriminate waste disposal, mostly affected by the road medians.
An old man, who is into book binding business in Adelabu Shopping Complex at Scout Camp Local Council Development Area, but preferred not to be named, confirmed to our correspondent that there was no provision for a place where traders could deposit their wastes before the contractors of Oyo State Waste Management Agency would evacuate to the final dump sites despite the large population of traders in the market.
“This market has no place set aside for people to properly arrange their waste for government to evacuate, that is why people dump the refuse you see on the road. There was a time that they said each shop should be paying N100 for refuse collectors to evacuate their wastes but people did not pay. Help us beg government to be bringing vehicles to collect the wastes,” he said.
In his reaction, the chairman of the marketers at the complex, Mr Adebamiro, told our correspondent that he had personally arrested some people who dumped refuse on the median in the area.
“People from the complex on the other side of the roads are responsible for the indiscriminate dumping of refuse on the road. I had personally arrested some persons. Waste Management Agency’s contractors used to come with vehicles to collect the wastes but we don’t know what has happened now. They have not been coming. We used to tell our traders to arrange their refuse at a spot in front of the market, but when we noticed that it (the waste) used to produce foul odour before the OYWMA would come to evacuate, we told them to keep their refuse at their stores until we get assurance that the vehicles would be coming,” he said.
At Ring Road ,which is one of the highbrow areas in the city, it was the same experience as some residents also use the median strips as dump site in a reckless manner. It was deja vu at Dugbe, the commercial hub of the city, Mokola, Sango, Oja-Oba and Oje which were also visited. Although waste management contractors worked day and night to evacuate the wastes to the dumpsites in the city, the roads continued to be defaced by the ubiquitous heaps of refuse abandoned on the median strips.
Environmental Offenders to Pay 10,000 to 15,000.
West Africa Energy, the contractor for waste management in the state, apparently overwhelmed by the continuous littering of major roads with refuse, on October 28 wrote on Facebook; “As we continue the fight against illegal and indiscriminate dumping of refuse all around the state- 3 issues continue to be in the front burner: The need for increased awareness on sanitation laws and proper hygiene; a clear and decisive policy statement condemning this unbecoming acts of indiscriminate refuse dumping and the provision of ‘sweetners’ for those that comply.”
The Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Kehinde Ayoola, also threatened that environmental offenders would be fined 10,000 to 15,000 or made to do community work if caught. However, the threat did little to restrain residents from the act of environmental violence as road medians hitherto play host to mountains of refuse which pose health hazards with the foul odour that filled the air.
Meanwhile, the state government in early November announced that it had revoked the contract signed with West Africa Energy in 2016 for breach of contractual agreement. Hon Ayoola, who announced the decision, noted that Ibadan had “experienced unbearable heaps of refuse in the last four weeks”, adding that the company had not lived up to expectation.
Although a prompt response from whichever company that eventually gets the state government’s contract for waste management might rid the roads of refuse in the interim but it will not put a permanent stop to the menace which is fast becoming a culture in the city if the fundamental issues are not tackled.