Wastes take over major roads, markets in Akwa Ibom


Akwa Ibom, a once adjudged cleanest State in Nigeria seems to be overwhelmed with refuse dumps all over the streets and major markets in its metropolis and suburbs.

Heaps of waste also litter the popular Akpan Andem market along Ndiya street which links to Udo Umana, cutting off both human and vehicular movements along the area.

Also not spared are Abak road, Ikpa road close to University of Uyo, Atiku Abubakar Avenue, Ikot Ekpene road, Itu-Calabar road, IBB way, Nwaniba road, and Obio Imoh street, among others.

Residential areas such as the entrance of Effiong Ukpong street by Udobio street have as well been overtaken by waste heaps.

More worrisome is a situation where traders, especially fruits sellers and other edibles sellers stay too close to the refuse dumps despite the stench oozing from the dump sites.

This not only poses a health threat to these vulnerable persons, mostly women, but to the customers who buy these contaminated foods and fruits.

Akwa Ibom is said to generate over 15,000 tonnes of municipal and household waste daily and from observations, the waste heaps are concentrated in the markets.

A water leaf seller, Madam Imoh said, “we pay sanitation fee in Itam Market even here we are selling, (pointing at the refuse dump) but look at how the place is. Though sometimes they come to evacuate the waste but this place is always dirty.”

However, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights and Development Advancement (FOCEHRADA), Barr Clifford Thomas in an interview blamed the waste management system of the government and described it as faulty.

He said, “What we do is clean, pack refuse from some key points in Akwa Ibom State, film those key points, do a report to whoever gives that award and at the end of the day, we are described as the cleanest state in Nigeria. The ability to sustain that is doubtful.

“We may be the cleanest state in Nigeria depending on their variables because I wouldn’t know the exact variables that were used, but whatever variables gave us the cleanest State in Nigeria requires that we do more.”

Thomas also observed that the Uyo Village Road dumpsite is a major water source to 24 local government areas in the state but has been contaminated with waste, adding that it had contributed to increasing cases of malaria and typhoid fever in the state.

According to him, “The place where we dump waste in Akwa Ibom State is supposed to be a UNESCO site. That place has a spring because it leads straight to the water level where the water table is. It is a UNESCO heritage site but they have destroyed it.

“The waste, including human tissue, drives from that place into the Ikpa trough. The Ikpa trough feeds several local government areas with water. That same water source you see at Uyo village Road is the same water source we have in more than 24 local government areas. So when you dig a borehole and drink the water, you still have an increased incidence of typhoid.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA) Prince Akpan Ikim in a media parley acknowledged the increased volume of waste generated in Uyo, assuring that his agency was working hard to address the issue.

He added that his men were out to identify places with a high volume of wastes.

Ikim attributed the situation to an increase in population in the state and the cost of hiring trucks due to the high cost of diesel.

“We will try as much as possible to be on top of our game,” he said.

The Chairman also lamented that the agency was being shortchanged by some local government councils as they have instituted their own by-laws and introduced sanitation fees in markets.

He claimed that the local government areas that have introduced sanitation levies in markets have failed to keep the markets clean, and urged them to do so.

His words, “Some local governments woke up and said they have done a by-law on environment. Those persons have also devised a means for collecting sanitation fees in local markets. I will not evacuate waste for you in a market where you are collecting fees.

“If you are collecting a specified amount of money from market women for sanitation fees, you should use that money to evacuate waste.

“So local government areas that have set-up these laws and are collecting fees should please use those monies to evacuate waste.

“Like the issue of Akpan Andem market, I have been doing some interventions around there, but I have told them point blank that I would not evacuate anymore.”

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