Help! stench from dumpsite choking us, Calabar residents cry out
Over 10 years after it was first opened, residents of Ikot Effanga Community in Calabar Municipal Council of Cross River State, have cried out to the state government not to compromise their health.
Specifically, they want the government to take steps towards shielding them from an imminent epidemic that may arise from the ever-expanding Lemna Dumpsite in their domain, and obnoxious stench emanating from it.
Since it was created, refuse collected from all parts of Calabar Municipal Council, and Calabar South Local Council, by the Cross River Urban Development Agency (CUDA), have been disposed of there.
But of late, residents of the area are expressing worries over the long-term effect that the stench, which wafts steadily across the area would have on their health.
Uwem John, a shop owner, who also resides within the area lamented the horrible time he had when he lived in the Ikot Effanga Community.
“The odour that comes out of the dumpsite makes residents of the neighbourhood fear for their lives. During the rainy season, rainwater soaks the dumpsite seriously. And after the rains, the sun heats up the refuse so much that it emits very strong stench. During the early hours of the day, and on particularly sunny days, we are usually starved of clean air to breathe. That is why we fear for our lives.”
John added that matters are made worse because decomposing bodies are also deposited at the dumpsite by CUDA in total breach of standard health practices.
His views are corroborated by Matthias Okafor, another resident of the area, who equally raised serious concerns about the location of the dumpsite and the state government’s lack of concern over the their plight.
Okafor said on many occasions, the residents have tried without success to bring government’s attention to the health hazard the facility poses, and the need for it to be relocated to another site.
According to him “The community has tried to get the government to relocate the site but to no avail. There was a time the trucks were dumping the refuse on the road making it impassable and dirty, but the community had to move against that. Now the trucks are disposing their bins inside.”
On a recent inspection visit to the dumpsite, Governor Ben Ayade, got a taste of what residents of the area undergo.
On the governors arrival, about 30 trucks were on queue to dispose their bins and buffeted by the heavy stench from the massive refuse dump, Ayade said: “It is unacceptable and totally unhealthy for both waste and human beings to coexist side-by-side as we have witnessed here today. I am sure that when this place was designated a dumpsite, nobody was living here. But now that it is sharing the same environment with human beings, we have to consider an alternative place for a new dumpsite.”
The governor appealed to Cross Riverians to be patient with him as he holistically addresses the issue of proper waste disposal, in line with the “Clean and Green” mantra of his administration.
In his words: “Once more, I want to plead with you for your understanding as my team and I aggressively seek to address the challenge of waste disposal. We are concerned about your interest, health, welfare, safety and security. They are key to me. Have a little patience and this waste will soon be a thing of the past.
“What we have as a critical solution is to ensure that we still do what we can to manage the dumpsite and that is why we have brought in a lot of bulldozers to see how we can push the waste further into the ravine and suppressing it with a lot of compaction.”
Ayade added that: “The Lemna Road where we have our traditional refuse dumpsite is completely filled. We are trying to see how we can push back the refuse further down, but it appears that the dumpsite has reached its maximum carrying capacity.”
He pointed out that refuse collection was not a challenge, but its proper disposal, hence the need for his administration to partner with a team from Israel and Dublin, to do the proper waste management that entails segregation and optimal utilisation.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to contain the current dumpsite, which is bursting at the seams, the state government has deplored caterpillars to the refuse dump.
The caterpillars are clearing the path for the trucks to venture deep before offloading their contents, and also pushing the debris towards the ravine.
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