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Minna Communities Dare Epidemic Outbreak •Live Amid Stench From Pigs’ Dung, Piles Of Refuse
ADELOWO OLADIPO, in Minna, peeps into the obnoxious lifestyle of residents of some interior parts of the state capital, concluding that the resultant effects may be flooding and an outbreak of epidemic in the nearest future, if the situation is not urgently addressed.
There is an imminent outbreak of cholera and other epidemic diseases among the residents of Banana Ward and the nearby Christ the King Catholic Church areas of Tunga community in Chanchaga Local Government Area of Minna, the Niger State capital.
This follows non-adherence of the residents to sanitary rules occasioned by illegal and indiscriminate refuse dumping, inabilities of the state’s Urban Development and Local Government authorities to provide drainages, coupled with the construction of both residential and worship centres on erosion channels, including unrestricted movements of domestic animals such as pigs in some of the residential areas.
Indications to this effect emerged last Wednesday as Environment’s visit to the communities revealed that aside from the poor road networks in these communities which are on the outskirt of Minna, some of the residents are, on a daily basis, apprehensive of being struck by diseases, following the filthy environment in which they live.
Banana Ward is situated directly behind both the new Central Mosque, which is still undergoing construction and a branch of Diamond Bank at Tunga, a community in the state capital, while Christ the King Catholic Church, located in another neighbouring community, was built a few distance away from the Tunga outlet of Mr. Biggs. The two communities are about 500 metres away from the Chanchaga- Tunga highway.
A female resident, who begged not to be quoted, stated that she and her family members no longer open the windows of their two bedroom rented apartment as a result of illegal dumping of refuse on a bushy piece of land in the community. The dumping ground, she said, was directly facing the windows, thereby denying the family of five proper ventilation in their apartment.
“In fact, we are thinking of packing out of this house at the expiration of our tenancy in November this year as a result of the puddles of water we usually wade through during the rainy season, as well as poor road networks and filthy environment caused by this illegal refuse dump sited directly opposite our flat. People usually dump wastes there at the cover of the night and in the early hours of the day because the refuse bin supplied by the government is a bit far from us,” the source stated.
Environment was further informed that those in the habit of dumping their domestic wastes on the undeveloped plots of land, whose owner was said to be one of the late prominent indigenes of Minna, were usually housewives and children who feel that the refuse bins placed by the roadside at designated areas provided by the Niger State Emergency Management Agency are too far from the community because of its distance to the main road.
Also at the Christ the King Catholic Church area, which is the community directly behind Mr. Biggs outlet at Tunga, the situation is similar to that of the Banana Ward as they are faced with imminent flooding anytime there is a heavy rainfall, following haphazard the construction of residential and worship places without approved plans by the regulatory authorities.
In fact, Environment’s findings further revealed that the entire community at the back of the eatery is bedeviled by drainage problems as not enough space was left between one house and the other by their respective landlords.
Aside this, the state’s Environmental Protection Agency was also accused of not providing the residents with enough skip bins as well as designated spots where domestic wastes of the respective houses should be dumped for collection by the employees of the agency, thereby leaving residents the option of devising how individual households would go about the disposal of their wastes.
A landlady, Mrs. Khadijat Suleiman, who spoke with Environment, traced the problems to August 20, 2002, when majority of property owners in the environ were rapidly developing their parcels of land for residential and commercial purposes.
“For instance, the owner of the house directly behind me constructed his septic water as well as sited his waste bin at a portion in my own piece of land which I left out as a set back for construction of drainage with the view that my fence would not be affected by erosion during the rainy season.
“When I started experiencing the problem of flooding in my house, I went to lodge a complaint at the state’s Environmental Protection Agency (NISEPA) over the encumbrances on my land and he was asked to remove his waste bin while the problem being created by his septic tank is still unresolved and erosion has eaten deeply into the foundation of my fence,” she stated.
The resident, whose house is not too far from a new generation church, also accused the church’s authorities of being part of those responsible for the blockage of the right of way of erosion in the community, emphasising that if there had been drainage in the community, the residents would not have been faced with the problem of erosion which, she said, has become a recurring decimal for both the landlords and their tenants alike.
Another resident, a petty trader in the community, Mallam Garba Mohammed, also related how he was almost beaten up by an aggrieved neighbour over his persistent complaints and opposition to indiscriminate dumping of refuse on a piece of land very close to his shop.
Garba stated further that the problem of a filthy environment at the interior parts of Tunga community of Minna was further worsened by acts of indiscipline among residents, especially by parents who are finding it difficult to heed the warnings against sending their little children for the disposal of their domestic wastes and the need to keep a healthy environment for the general good of the society.
“On a fateful morning recently, when I was going to mosque for early morning prayers, somebody with whom I had no problem aside my opposition to his creating a refuse dump near my provisions shop, almost beat me up after cursing me and abusing my parents,” said Garba.
He, however, observed that the problem would persist, as he alleged that relevant authorities were not alive to their responsibilities by enforcing arrests and prosecuting people who are endangering the lives of others by their dirty habits of dumping refuse in their neighbourhood, while the agencies concerned should also be seen to be doing what the government had established them to do and for which they were earning their monthly salaries, adding that the agencies should also be monitored to ensure compliance with their responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the assistant Ward head of Banana Ward (Mai Angwa) in Tunga community of Minna, Alhaji Abdullahi Ciroma, has enjoined residents of his community to stop dumping their refuse or domestic wastes anyhow.
He added that the Niger State Environmental Protection Agency usually embarks on sensitisation programmmes through workshops and meetings with the community opinion leaders on the need to ensure a healthy environment.
“Sometimes, we have lectures and meetings with them on how we can take care of our refuse and I could remember there was a time they used to bring empty drums here so that we could dispose our refuse and within two or three days, their men would come and evacuate it. But then, some of our people did not respond to such assistance from the NISEPA people,” Ciroma averred.
Pa Ciroma stated that after the refusal of some of the residents to take advantage of the situation of bringing empty drums to their door steps for the disposal of their domestic wastes, the agency later took some of the skip bins to some strategic positions on the main road for people to come and dump their refuse there for onward evacuation by the agency’s refuse vans.
He advised parents to stop the idea of sending their little children to dispose of their wastes indiscriminately and ensure that such refuse is taken to designated spots provided by NISEPA for onward transfer to dump sites.
However in a swift reaction, Deputy General Manager, Waste Management, in Niger State Environmental Protection Agency (NISEPA), Engr. Lucky Baro, has allayed fears of an outbreak of epidemic in the state capital and its environs, following the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in some residential areas of the state capital, even as he stated that NISEPA has been trying its best to service some of the community members behind Mr. Biggs outlet.
He stated further that some of the mega dump sites in the state capital, particularly behind Mr. Biggs outlet in Minna had been evacuated, adding that the deteriorating condition of some of the roads in the neighbourhood had been hindering access to evacuating the remaining refuse in the neighbourhood.
Speaking on the obstinacy of some residents of the state capital, Baro added that whenever NISEPA put a warning sign in some spots to disuade people from dumping refuse there, residents of such area usually disregard it.
According to him, “the state government has made provisions for skip bins along the roads and all that the people need to do is to bring out their wastes on the roads sides for us to pick and our people can go as far as Lace Restaurant at the Banana Ward area of Tunga community, Mr. Biggs and as far as Christ the King Catholic Church in Minna.”
To discourage indiscriminate dumping of refuse, Engineer Baro affirmed that the agency had done a lot of information disemination as well as as summary trial of offenders on mobile courts to no avail.
He stressed that it is the duty of all stakeholders to treat the environment with love, adding that NISEPA has so far enjoyed the goodwill of the government, but the people need to change their attitude toward the environment so that the organisation can serve them better.
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