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Residents decry mounting heaps of refuse in Edo, Imo, Lagos

Peeved by the outbreak of fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, residents in Benin City, Edo State capital, yesterday expressed displeasure over the poor environmental conditions of some streets and the life-threatening stench emanating from roads and drainages, especially in the popular Lagos and Ibiwe streets around the Kingsquare area of the state.

The residents are worried about the unsanitary condition of the city centre and are apprehensive of the environmental hazards the offensive odour poses to their health. When The Guardian visited the area, mostly populated by traders and members of the Hausa community, it was in shambles and an eyesore.

Traders have therefore appealed to the relevant government agencies, particularly the state Ministry of Health and Environment, to unravel those channelling their sewage and sludge into the open drains from their business and residential premises.

A bookshop owner, Mr. Emeka Obi, who lamented the challenge they faced daily over what he described as the free flow of human waste, said the Hausa community usually engage in open defecation, which flows from Lagos Street to 1st and 2nd Ibiwe Streets. Obi added that the menace of open defecation had been reported to the Oredo Local Government Area officials but there has been no positive response from the council environmental officers.

Similarly, if urgent steps are not taken, there might be another scourge of epidemic in Owerri, the capital city of Imo State. Residents of the city are living in fear of a possible outbreak of disease owing to the mountains of refuse littering the streets without evacuation. Some of the streets are Wethdral, Okigwe and Douglas Roads, including adjoining streets and layouts.

The state government through the Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO) is yet to make any explanation on the dangerous stench coming from the decaying refuse at various locations. Usually, the evacuation of refuse was done daily with trucks at designated dumpsites but the wastes have been left to the litter for weeks now.

A source confided in The Guardian that the contractors and workers were yet to be paid. A resident, John Ibe, said: “I am afraid of the type of refuse heaps springing up on the streets of Owerri in this time of coronavirus. We are appealing to the state government to evacuate them speedily.”

The newly sworn-in Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, did not pick calls put across to him.

In Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity, the government in its bid to curb the coronavirus has directed scavengers to immediately vacate all refuse dumpsites. This was made known by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, who directed the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to give immediate effect to the directive.

But residents are calling on officials of the Ministry of Health, and Environmental Sanitation Department in the local councils to immediately evacuate piles of refuse blocking canals and drainages in their council area as the rainy season beckons.

The call was made after the delay in evacuation of waste by PSP operators of LAWMA, leading to refuse heaps being sighted at major markets, bus-stops and street corners. An example is the stretch of Idi-Araba, Ishaga and Ilasa in Mushin Local Council, where residents have been enduring the stench of refuse heaps dotting the roads and street corners.

Nearly all the streets in the area are littered with refuse, which keeps expanding by the day. Some of the streets visited include Okunade, Afanda and Olafimihan, where the entrance to almost all the buildings are not spared the eyesore of heaps of refuse.

According to a resident who simply gave her name as Mrs. Florence, after nearly a month, the PSP evacuated waste from the area last week. “Despite the awareness going on about coronavirus and the need to keep a personal hygiene, everybody is trying his or her possible best to keep away from germs and make the environment safe but now our streets are all littered with waste. We want them to please come in and pack our wastes regularly,” she said.

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