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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Waste disposal: five states take measures to keep environment clean

State governments in the North-Central zone and part of the North-East are taking measures to ensure proper waste disposal, a survey has shown.

Victor Omofaiye
Kogi State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Victor Omofaiye

The states are Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and Taraba.

In Plateau, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Yakubu Idi, said new strategies for waste management were based on the experience his ministry and its agencies had garnered over time.

“We used to have problem of dino bins, some of them were already worn out, and we have put in two strategies, one of which is community engagement.

“We keep the skeletons of the worn out dino bins and give out to communities to refurbish and keep in their environment and take ownership.

“The second strategy is that we are intensifying our efforts to see that the contract of the 40 dino bins which was awarded in 2020 is completed.

“As it is today, we have 18 in place and we are waiting for the balance of 22 and the contractor has given us six months within which he will complete work. When that is done, we will place them in strategic places including Terminus area, Jos.

“We have done it in such a way that the Plateau Environmental Protection and Sanitation Agency (PEPSA) would concentrate on collection and evacuation of public waste.

“Private waste operators would be engaged to take care of waste from private residence and corporate organisations,” Idi explained.

He said that the ministry faced a major challenge of lack of trucks in 2020, but had recently refurbished seven trucks and would refurbish more to make the number 12, in a few months.

Idi also disclosed that the state’s monthly environmental sanitation had been put on hold, but efforts were on to resuscitate the exercise.

“We have environmental laws in place, what we need to do more in 2021 is enforcement. The authorities saddled with the responsibility of enforcement are developing strategies, as the level of compliance is abysmally low.

“We have the intention of reviewing the laws to meet current realities but at the moment, we will use the old ones.

“According to the laws, shops owners are supposed to have polythene bags or bins were they can dump their refuse. Those who fail to do so are to pay a fine of N5,000,” he said.

On his part, the General Manager of PEPSA, Mr Gabriel Bako, said the major problem the agency was facing was failure by some people to deposit their waste at the collection points.

Bako said that such people were dumping refuse in the centre of the road in such a place as Terminus Market.

He said though, the agency had advised the people to place dino bin in their shops, many of them had refused to comply.

Bako said that some street sweepers in the state were punished for not properly placing refuse at the collection points.

According to him, some were sacked, while those who were ready to comply with the directive were engaged.

Mr Larry Ineke, state Director of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), said operators in solid minerals were not complying with environmental laws as related to waste management.

Ineke called for a closer collaboration between the Plateau Government and NESREA in the areas of waste management and other environmental issues.

Meanwhile, the Benue Government says it spends N40 million monthly on improved sanitation in the state.

The Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Dondo Ahire, who disclosed this, also said efforts were underway to review the state’s sanitation laws.

Ahire said that his ministry spends about N10 million monthly on payment of street sweepers, grass cutters, heavy duty machine workers and maintenance.

He also said that over N20 million was spent every month by the Benue State Environmental Sanitation Authority (BENSESA) on environmental cleanup of the state.

Ahire disclosed that the government had commenced the process of reviewing its sanitation laws to make it more punitive so as to deter people from abusing the environment.

Similarly, Mr Solomon Onah, General Manager, Benue State Environmental Sanitation Authority (BENSESA), said the agency had arrested over 500 persons in the last 12 months for various sanitation offences.

As for Kogi State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Victor Omofaiye, he said the government had adopted some measures to ensure proper waste disposal and management in the state.

Omofaiye said the government had engaged the services of private waste service providers to ensure proper waste collection in major streets, offices, and recreational centres.

He said government had also empowered and funded the Kogi State Sanitation and Waste Management Board (KGSSWMB) to aggressively tackle waste storage, collection, transportation and disposal.

Speaking on the challenges facing government and private operators in waste disposal and management, Omofaiye noted that these included the high cost of maintaining waste disposal vehicles.

He said that the cost of maintaining personnel was also high, adding that the problem of poor urban planning made it difficult for officials to easily access some dump sites.

Omofaiye stated that indiscriminate dumping of waste by residents was a great challenge as well.

The commissioner said that residential areas, markets, offices, parks and gardens were actually sources of waste generation which essentially lacked waste storage, collection and disposal facilities.

He said the sources also lacked vegetation control, adequate and proper drainage facilities, and sanitary facilities like water, toilets, and kitchen in some cases.

On rules and regulations put in place to ensure proper waste management and environmental sanitation, Omofaiye said there was an enabling law established on April 6, 2013 that required every household to have a dustbin.

He said the state had monthly environmental sanitation day, adding that the exercise was put in place to mobilise people to clean the environment and dispose their refuse.

In Nasarawa State, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Musa Abubakar, says government has put in place measures to ensure proper waste management by providing areas for collection.

“The collection centres are residential areas. Some of the final dumping centres are at B.A.D., another one is in Anwa Rere where a Federal Government recycling project is ongoing. These are the major dumping centres,” Abubakar said.

He appealed to the Federal Government to assist the state with waste management equipment to effectively evacuate waste.

In Taraba, the Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation, Alhaji Ibrahim Lawal, said the government was making concerted efforts to enhance proper waste disposal.

According to Lawal, the staff of the ministry and those of the state Ministry of Urban Development regularly conducted joint operation to ensure clean environment in the city centres.

He said the ministry would intensify efforts at sensitising the public against indiscriminate waste disposal, educate them on the health implications of such actions and the need for them to participate in keeping their environment clean.

Stakeholders in sanitation and hygiene sectors in the state have called on the government to pay more attention to issues of waste disposal to enhance health of the people.

One of them, Mr Boniface Kosson, Chief Executive Officer of Youths Progressive Association in Taraba, said his organisation which was supported by USAID was working on issues of proper waste disposal in Jalingo and Zing local government areas.

Kosson noted that a lot needed to be done to change the mentality of residents about proper waste disposal for enhanced sanitation and hygienic condition of the state.

“People must be adequately sensitised on the dangers of dumping waste indiscriminately and conscious efforts must be made by the state government to provide necessary facilities at designated areas to achieve this,” he said.

Mr James Matsondi, a private waste manager, said aggressive enlightenment campaigns on waste disposal and its implications on the health of the people were needed to change people’s attitude.

Mrs Helen Douglas, a street cleaner, said government should provide necessary containers at designated areas to enable residents dump refuse in them for easy management.

By Razak Owolabi

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