AWKA — With only about two months to change of government, there are clear signs that seem to suggest that the current government has perhaps been disserted. An elegant proof of this is the attitude of government officials towards their duty. Understandably, transition comes with its own demands and pressures which tend to affect work and work pace. But even that must not subject the people and the society to incredible stress and confusion that smacks of absence of government.
Awka, Nnewi, and especially Onitsha have had long-standing challenges with waste management. In fact, Onitsha at some point was so filthy that the city easily qualifies as the waste capital of Anambra State, if not the Southeast. With so many big markets, that feature thousands of sellers and buyers daily except on Sundays, in addition to at least over a million residents, waste generated in Onitsha is only better imagined. Close to Onitsha is Nnewi which also has some very popular and big markets, with a lot of imported products, some industries among others, plus waste generated by residents who are in their numbers. This also makes Nnewi only second to Onitsha in waste generation. Awka comes third and most of the wastes generated in Awka are from residents of the city who have now more than doubled from only a few years ago, and with that is the challenge of waste management in the capital city.
For the past few weeks, different waste dumps across Awka metropolis have been filled to the brim and overflowing to nearby roads. In many instances, the wastes have nearly blocked off roads completely. While in some cases, waste covers a better part of the roads such that commuters moving in both directions can only take turns to use the small portion left uncovered by waste. Every nook and cranny of Awka is dotted by piles of waste and this only is a reflection of the type of government we have in place. Otherwise, why must city administration, environmental management be abandoned because a new government is coming in?
It is unfortunate that governance suffers in our clime because we have not been able to systematize our government so that it does not revolve around people who are occupying government offices, per time. Under that prevailing circumstance, there can hardly be any sustainable progress because each time, the system depends on the political allegiance or emotions, biases, and other considerations personal to the occupant of a public office, to be able to function and deliver or hinder results.
The tragedy, however, is that the people seem to be comfortable with the situation to the point of giving excuses for this failure, hopeless and yet expecting the worst. For instance, a businesswoman whose shop is at the point of being covered by waste overflowing from the dumpsite at Udoka Estate in Awka said that the situation is expected considering that the current government is leaving. ‘We will soon have a new government. this one now is tired and cannot do much again, look at my shop, it is as if I am selling this waste’, she said. People are angry, yet moving on and adjusting as if nothing is happening.
As of the time of this write-up, feedback could not be secured from the Ministry of Environment or the Anambra State Waste Management Agency – ASWAMA. However, the former Chairman of ASWAMA regretted that what is happening now was exactly what led to his resignation in February 2021. While resigning, ‘I noted with sadness non-funding of waste management by the government. I used my personal money and at other times, borrowed money from friends and family, to do government work…I hope that the incoming government of Prof. Soludo will take waste management very seriously’, Philip Chinwuba said. Regretting that the approach the government took did not solve the problem, Chinwuba noted that engaging private contractors as waste managers as it is obtained now may be a smart way of shifting blames but does not solve the problem of waste management.
This therefore only perhaps suggests that there is no solution in view pending when the new government takes over from Governor Obiano on March 17, 2022, by which time the whole of Awka and indeed Onitsha and Nnewi might have been swallowed up by filth and dirt and trash and refuse. This can only get even more perplexing as the rainy season draws closer. As of now, waste have already blocked some drainage and water channels, which will increase the chances of flooding in the coming months. The question remains, for how long will governance and public good be sacrificed on the altar of politics and in this particular instance, political transition?
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