by Bamise Ojo
It is no news that waste management is a serious problem in Nigeria and some Nigerian cities have been regarded as some of the dirtiest and polluted in the world according to several surveys and research done in the past. This was also echoed by Forbes in its list of dirtiest cities in the world and the World Health Organisation database of most polluted cities in the world. Past and present governments at the State level have been trying to find solutions to waste problem but the result is not encouraging.
In this week’s edition of our special report, we will be looking at the policies and efforts of government in recent and time past to curb the waste problem.
Oyo State as a Case Study
Taking Oyo State Government efforts as a case study; in the past in Ibadan – the Oyo State capital, is synonymous with dirt but the emergence of the present administration has changed that story. The government has taken some drastic decisions to make the city clean. In a city with a large population like Ibadan (last known population is 3,160,200 according to Population City), a larger amount of waste is expected compared to smaller cities and a standard waste management practice should be in place to meet up to the large population.
Governor Ajimobi Efforts in Tackling Waste in Ibadan
Since his election into office in 2011, Governor Ajimobi has tried to change the dirty nature of the State by purchasing waste trucks and waste bins for the Oyo State Waste Management Agency (OYOWMA) to collect waste around the State. The waste bins are put in strategic public places in the State such as market, places with a history of poor waste disposal, etc. In other to complement the work of the OYOWMA, private waste collectors were introduced in 2013 to collect waste from private buildings. Public roads were not neglected as the government employed Road Sweepers to clean the highways.
A compulsory weekly environmental sanitation exercise was also introduced to be done every Thursday for two (2) hours (8:00 am to 10:00 am), which is different from the federal government monthly environmental sanitation exercise to encourage good environmental sanitation habit. Both the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and OYOWMA have been engaging in the enlightenment of the public on environmental sanitation through radio and TV programs and public campaigns in collaboration with corporate organizations. According to the Oyo State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Chief Isaac Ishola, 1,342 environmental law offenders were arrested and convicted in 2017 across the State.
Much Effort Put in, but Expected Result did not Surface
In his recommitment to a clean State, the government has announced that every house must have a waste bin. However, despite all the measures put in place to effectively manage waste in the state, it seems the efforts put in are not yielding much results. As a result of this, the government terminated its contract with the private waste collector in May 2017 claiming their operations were not efficient and effective despite getting paid by the public. OYOWMA took over the duty of the private waste collectors and WestAfricaENRG was given the contract to manage the agency. Despite this restructuring, Ibadan is still not clean as expected but no longer in the black book of the dirtiest city in Nigeria.
The government needs to do more!!!
The government needs to do more than this to have a clean State. The government needs to start the aggressive enforcement, yes aggressive!!!, of the enacted laws and arresting and prosecution of offenders should follow. A possible prosecution can be sentencing offenders to certain hours of community service. If required, the government should make more laws pertaining to waste management in consultation with relevant stakeholders as well as putting the peculiar nature of the State into consideration. Environmental sanitation awareness and campaigns should be taken to markets, motor parks and grassroots’ informing the people of the consequences of violating environmental law. Every facility that generates waste be it residential or commercial building must have a standard waste bin and some couple of stalls in markets should share a waste bin.
A Need to Change Waste Collection Technique
Dumping of waste in public places and on public roads should be discouraged and a better waste collection technique should be designed. I personally see this technique of waste collection as inadequate. Taking festive period as an instance, huge waste is left for days on road medians and public places waiting for the waste collectors to cart them away and this makes the city look dirty. The waste bin overflow is another issue; the citizen won’t stop dumping waste once the bin is filled and the agency too always tarry to dispose the waste.
According to a popular saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, the government need to re-evaluate its effort towards waste management so as to find a lasting solution to the waste problem in our States. Waste problem is a menace to our society which needs to be dealt-with with serious attention. A dirty State will not attract investors and the State will always have a bad reputation; which is bad for development.
A clean State is a healthy State!
Author: Suhaib Arogundade
Suhaib Arogundade is an enthusiastic young professional who has interest in commodity trading, mindset redesigning, and waste management research.
Suhaib is the Chief Waste Eliminator at WasteWatch Africa.