Epidemic fear grips Uyo metropolis over mounting garbage
Anxiety has gripped Uyo, the state capital of Akwa Ibom, over piles of rubbish strewn in and around the town center.
Worried about the ugly development, which residents feared could trigger an epidemic due to the offensive stench of the dumps, residents sounded the alarm, calling on the government to pressure the relevant authorities to evacuate them.
Audits conducted by LEADERSHIP revealed that Government House and other institutions including A Division Police Station, Council of Chiefs, State Judiciary Building, Uyo Local Government Areas and local residents of Barracks Road, are most affected by the stench from the dumps.
“In addition to these large dumps on the Uyo Village Road section, piles of rubbish have started to pile up again in parts of the town after an emergency response late last month following an outcry general,” Akan Inyang, a resident of Barracks Road, told our correspondent.
“The new landfill located inside a ravine along the road from Uyo village came into operation after being moved from the old site near a residential area. When the stench became so poisonous , the state government was forced to relocate some residents whose health was affected,” he recalled.
He lamented that “since a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that the state government signed with a private company for relocation to a more convenient site away from the city, nothing had been done in this regard as the stench has become more and more unpleasant to the surrounding offices,” noted an official at the state justice headquarters, who would not want his name printed.
“Due to the constant dumping of waste and the physical burning of waste without using an incinerator as is done elsewhere, the road to Uyo village, which houses the main dump, has been completely degraded with the tar eroded due to from the pressure of fire.”
“Vehicles can barely pass as the road has been reduced to a mere track due to frequent rubbish dumps which spill onto the road and impede traffic. We cannot work comfortably in this office due to the foul odors landfill,” said another employee of the Uyo Local Government Council, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
More worrying are the health risks this poses to the population, as the lives of residents and workers around the affected areas, he said, remain under threat of an epidemic.
It was found that most of these sites are devoid of receptacles, especially in poor residential areas, Atiku Abubakar Avenue, Ikot Ekpene Road, Itu-Calabar Road, Ikot Ambang, Itam Market, IBB Road , Nwaniba Road, Obio Imoh Street and many more.
Resident of Afaha Ube Street, Ernest Udoh-Robert, Publicity Secretary of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, CDHR, Ernest Udoh-Robert expressed concern over the apparent negligence of the environment by waste disposal and sanitation workers.
“It is unfortunate that a state deemed the cleanest state for four consecutive years can allow the capital to be filled with filth and stench-soaked air oozing from landfills.
“It is the right of all citizens and residents to have unhindered access to government facilities, the poor also pay taxes and they should not be discriminated against in any way, whatever is good for those who live in uptown should also be provided for the poor.”
However, a senior official from the state Environmental Sanitation and Waste Management Agency, who confided in our correspondent, blamed the high price of diesel as the major problem hampering their operations.
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, revealed that the chairman of the waste management agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, “plans to rent the necessary equipment for the evacuation for the monthly exercise of environmental remediation this weekend to remove piled up waste as a cost-saving measure.
“Our problem is diesel. The high cost of diesel affects our evacuation process. You know we have trucks but we rent most of the other equipment needed for evacuation like bulldozers and compactors once a month.
“So since it is the government that subsidizes us, we intend to take advantage of the monthly sanitation exercise to use the other equipment that the government will hire to dispose of garbage although in some areas we are already evacuating “, did he declare.