Written By : SIMON UTEBOR
Yenagoa:- Fear of an epidemic of filth-related diseases has gripped residents of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, following heaps of refuse along major roads and streets in the metropolis.
From the city gate to Akenfa, Tombia Roundabout to Opolo, Kpansia, Yene-Izue-Epie, Okaka, Ekeki, Amarata, Onopa, down to Swali and Yenagoa, heaps of garbage are seen.
More worrisome is the stench issuing from the heaps, which forces residents to cover their noses to ward off likely airborne diseases.
The affected roads have been narrowed by refuse, thereby obstructing vehicular and human movements.
A resident, Preye ThankGod, lamented the development, attributing to the failure of relevant authorities to carry out their duties.
ThankGod feared the odour from the dumps had serious health implications for the residents.
“I don’t know what the relevant authorities are doing to tackle the menace of garbage in the metropolis. Many of the dumps on the roads in Yenagoa are smelling and this is not good for the health of the people,” he said.
Another resident, who gave her name only as Ebitade, said the menace had become recurrent and had forced motorists to manoeuvre their ways through the dumps, resulting sometimes in accidents.
He also observed that a trip from Tombia on Yenagoa-Mbiama Road, which used to be less than three hours, took about four hours .
He said, “I was in traffic jam for close to four hours. Initially, I did not know what was wrong. I had thought there was an accident. I did not know it was refuse that messed up our journey. In fact, I was distraught on learning the truth later.
“This should not be allowed to be. I challenge the relevant agencies to do something quickly to address this menace that has become an albatross for the people. The situation is compounded by the fact that there are no parks in the metropolis. So, any time you are confronted with the situation, you are left with Hobson’s choice.”
At Community Primary School, Kpansia, it was almost impossible for cars and tricycles to manoeuvre while pupils in the school had to navigate through other ways to enter their school compound as the gate leading to the school was almost taken over by overflowing refuse dumps.
A teacher in the school, who did not want her name mentioned because of fear of victimization, feared an outbreak of cholera among the pupils.
The teacher, who said the development had become an embarrassment to the school authorities, implored the state and local government to expedite action on the clearing of the dumps or relocate it to another place for the sake of the pupils.
A female passenger in a tricycle, who covered her nose as the traffic build-up prevented easy and quick passage near the stinking garbage, rained abuses on the government.
In Opolo markets, buyers and sellers do their transactions like deaf and dumb with their mouths and noses covered. One of the traders, Mrs. Janet Okoroafor, flayed the situation but said, noting that no effort were being made to evacuate the dumps.
“The stench is too strong that it sticks with you and people will begin to perceive odour from you as if you have body odour,” she said.
The situation is the same at OMPADEC junction, where overflowing refuse dump has almost taken over the entire road.
The overflowing dumps at Imgbi junction, Onopa, both very close to the seat of government, are the most embarrassing and have taken over both junctions.
At Swali market, which is one of the biggest markets in the metropolis, refuse has almost taken over a section of the market. Traders display their wares on the major roads leading to the market, making both vehicular and pedestrian movements cumbersome.
A taxi driver, who gave his name only as Akin, lamented that their their business had been adversely affected by the situation.
He said, “Government ought to look for a means of clearing the refuse or change the firms handling them or better still give the responsibility to local governments” .
Another resident, Ebiowei Jonathan, said, “It has become a recurring decimal in Yenagoa, especially since the last six months. I heard the waste managers say they have not been paid salaries; that is why they have refused to clear the refuse.
“The other day that the governor was hosting other governors during his second term declaration, they hurriedly came to clear the ones on the major highway, but since then, it has always been the same.
“In other climes, governments make revenue from refuse collection but in our state here, government contract it to their associates, pay them huge amount of money to clear refuse, yet they keep the money to themselves and do nothing because probably the governor is their brother or they are the governor’s godfathers.”
Governor Seriake Dickson had during a monthly media chat recently said the evacuation of refuse had become a challenge in view of funding constraints.
He had said every fund was being committed to the payment of workers’ salaries and emoluments.
Dickson expressed displeasure over the indiscriminate dumping of refuse, especially by the market women and noted that the Ministry of Environment as well as the contracting firm had resumed evacuation of refuse.
The governor expressed his administration’s preparedness to devising a sustainable mechanism that would keep Yenagoa metropolis clean.
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