As the rains begin to fall, residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed worry over the likelihood of increased erosion and outbreak of serious air borne diseases from contaminated water and smelling refuse dumps due to poor waste management in the Territory.
They are concerned that many refuse heaps have found their way into the drains and blocked the flow of water, thereby exposing residents and passersby to preventable health hazards.
Peoples Daily investigation revealed that it is common to find refuse littered everywhere on the streets, markets, gardens and other public places leading to dirty and smelling environment.
It was gathered that although, the FCT Administration through the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) provided waste bins at some strategic spots in the city as well as implementation of mandatory acquisition of receptacles by residents for use at various homes and offices , for easy evacuation to designated refuse dumpsites, yet the metropolis literally overflows with garbage and litter.
From Wuse, Utako, Jabi, Berger junction to Garki district, street hawkers and eateries outlets, with litter and refuse all around them even as people patronized them to the detriment of their health.
It would be recalled that the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed had during a recent on the spot assessment tour, lampooned operational heads in charge of metropolitan management services in the Territory, for letting the city become talking shop, without visible result.
The minister, who lampooned those in the area of environmental sanitation, water resource management and distribution, road traffic control and management services in the FCT, for allowing it to degenerate to what it is today, however he enjoined them to either brace up or resign, otherwise they would be shown the exit door, as the FCT administration was ready to sack them.
According to him, all the information they have been giving him were lies, because he was getting his information from other sources too.
“You (Directors) told me that all parts of the city are clean, and it is not true, and we have gone round with you, and you have seen that it is not true.
“You told me that there are no street traders, but there are street traders everywhere; you told me that there are no beggars, and we saw them everywhere,” the minister decried.
However, many residents told PeoplesDaily that with the rainy season here again, it will increase the preponderance of environmental challenges emanating from poor waste management in the city, which poses serious health hazards to inhabitants of the Territory, such as contamination of water, erosion, air borne diseases and stinking environment while it lasts.
A resident, Miss Omehi Joseph, who fingered the current FCT administration for allowing the nation’s capital to degenerate to what it is today, said when the former minister Mallam Narisu El-Rufai ,was in power, he ensured that waste from houses and work places were promptly evacuated by the AEPB and other agencies assigned to do so.
“But now streets of Abuja are littered with dirt, and it’s a cause for worry especially now, with the rains coming the environment has started to stink.
A cart pusher, Kabriu Mustapha who makes a living from helping residents to dispose their refuse to designated dumpsites also complained bitterly about the filthiness of the environment.
Lamenting, Mustapha said “we pack the dirt as our daily job for us to survive by carrying the heap of the garbage to live instead of stealing, a times we get sick from doing this work.”
On his part, another resident who simply identified himself as Zadok, however lampooned AEPB officials for not focusing on delivering on their mandates but looking the other way while most part of Abuja become messed up with refuse and other environmental hazards.
Similarly, a resident, who pleaded anonymity, equally accused officials of the environmental agency of arresting only street hawkers, with the intentions of exploiting them, and therefore they are unable to keep the city clean.
Also, some residents accused the AEPB of ineptitude and negligence of its primary duties, saying they only focus their attention on arresting young girls and parading them as commercial sex workers
Another resident, Femi kunle, said: “Despite the issue of keeping Abuja clean boldly written on advertisement bill boards strategically placed at major streets, the authorities in charge of managing the environment cannot control every individual or families, who abuse their immediate environment.
“And now that the rains are here, you will start hearing of cholera, sanitation problems, blocked drainage; but people in the metropolis need to keep the environment clean in order to escape the impending hazards.
“We do not need to wait for government; we should take preventive measures in our respective areas to stay away from diseases and flooding.”
“But the AEPB and other relevant stakeholders should do their work too,” he added.
Nevertheless, some environmental experts opined that to avoid risks from dirty environment, residents in the capital city needed to do the right things- clean and value cleanliness, proper waste disposal and sanitation by using the waste Bins provided by government.