PH: The Return Of A Garbage City?

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The Spillover of the Christmas and New Year celebrations is now being felt in the form of huge  waste dumps that are now a common sight in Port Harcourt.

No matter the route one follows into the city, huge refuse dumps saunters from a distance as one drives into the metropolis from both the Aba Road axis and Choba axis.

The Eleme axis is not spared as well. Even driving from the Bonny waterfront into Town buses and taxis meander through the dump sites at Creek Road. The dump becomes glaring at Lagos bus stop,’ just few metres from the junction.

The whole picture depicts rot with a simple message of a city whose refuse collectors have gone to sleep. But as at Monday when the dumps started disappearing from the exit corners, the city centre was still beset by lots of abandoned waste dumps.

From the Agip Estate at Rumueme driving down straight into Abacha Road, one is greeted by a waste dump stretching few metres into the high brow neighbourhood.

As one exits Woji junction in the new GRA and enters Onne Road another refuse dump erupts from a distance exuding foul odour.

At Mile 3 Park a huge refuse dump had almost become permanent there till late last year when refuse collectors evacuated it, but from indications the dump has continued to swell leading, sometimes to heavy traffic jam along the route.

Fortunately the dump at Education bus stop was totally cleared, while the one at Mile one Market has continued to fluctuate in size over the period. However, the collectors should be commended for trying to check the dump at the market.

Moving further to the Mile 4 axis, the dump at market junction is yet to be fully cleared. The same scene dots the Ikwerre Road all the way to Rumuokoro Junction, where a huge dump as at last week sits close to the Anglican Church by the roundabout.

From the Iwofe axis, a huge refuse dump is almost spilling unto the road just beside Jarus Base. The same scenario dots the road down to Rumuolumeni.

One resident in the area who gave her name as Amaka Peters lamented that most times dumps take a whole month to clear since collectors hardly come into the area.

Luckily areas like Trans-Amadi, Woji town including Amadi-Roundabout where a little bit spared during the period even though there were slight presence of waste dumps often quickly cleared before they become nuisance.

Within the slaughter area, residents and traders breathed a sigh of relief as not much of waste dmps where seen within the axis, except when one drives into Azuabie axis.

Investigations by The Tide on Sunday  reveal that most refuse collectors whose sites are out of public glare or far from the city centre hardly evacuate their sites often leading to the mountainous waste heaps seen in those areas.

Areas often affected include Iwofe, Azuabie, Elelenwo, Rumukurushi, woji and deep down Borokiri area in town axis of the metropolis.

Miffed by the poor waste management in the city last year, the state governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi had announced plans by his administration to evolve an efficient waste evacuation systems.

The governor had at a public forum last year flaked waste contractors for their failure to meet up government expectation, while lamenting that waste management had become a burden to his administration.

Few weeks after the governor expressed displeasure over the situation, the State Commissioner for Environment Barrister Kingsley Chindah quickly evolved measures to salvage the situation.

Part of the measures evolved by the environment ministry include the introduction of night sweeping, monitoring of indiscriminate dumping of refuse by residents, introduction of special sanitation days for public places such as: markets, parks and motor-parks.

However, the special sanitation days for public places is yet to have the desired impact, since most of the users of the area fail to turn up or participate fully.

Environmental experts are of the view that most of the waste that deface the city are generated in public places, and therefore harped on the need for government to intensity campaign in monitoring those places.

Commenting over the swelling waste dumps within the metropolis, an environmental engineer and lecturer in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Dr. Alexander Akor remarked that indiscriminate dumping of wastes affects people life span.

Most especially he observed that when waste water seeps underground, it affects the quality of drinking water.

Dr Akor observed that since most borehole water are hardly treated peoples lives are endangered.

The environmental expert further warned that waste dumps can ignite fire as a lot of bacteria in the waste can spark fire when they are overheated   by the sun. Such fire Dr Akor insisted can also spread to houses, especially in congested neighbourhoods leading to loss of lives and properties.

In a swift reaction to the situation, the Rivers State Environmental sanitation Authority (RSESA) on Wednesday issued a pres statement calling on all waste contractors to handover government properties in their possession.

According to the statement signed by RSESA chairman, Hon. Nnamdi Wokekoro, “All refuse disposal, dumpsite management controls with the Rivers State Government have been terminated with effect from 31st January, 2010.

The announcement The Tide on Sunday  investigations reveal cannot be disconnected from the glaring ineptitude of refuse contractors to rid the city of filth.

In order not to worsen the situation, the agency called on the refuse contractors to continue their duties till the end of this month or forefeet their payment for the month of January.

From indications, however contractors who have met the requirement of the RSESA may likely be re-appointed before 31st January.

Nevertheless, the major challenge on ground now is to ensure that the huge waste dumps is cleared around the city since that is one way to maintain the Garden City status of Port Harcourt.