Recently, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory flagged-off the Federal Capital Territory Household and Community Sanitation campaign in some area councils. While many lauded the action, others wondered for how long the exercise would last. OGECHI OKORONDU writes…
Issues concerning environmental health and pollution have been at the front burner of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, with focus on household sanitation since the outbreak of some dreaded diseases in the FCT.
While some residents are trying to key into the clean environment agenda of the FCTA, others are still wasting away in dirt for various reasons.
Residents of some satellite towns have blamed the incessant dumping of refuse which pollutes the environment on the lack of dumpsites. Such is the case in Kuchingoro, one of the villages along the airport road.
When Nigeria Pilot visited the said village, one could spot drainages that have been blocked by waste as some residents dump their refuse into the drainage canal, thereby restricting the free flow of running water, especially during the raining season which usually results to flooding.
An indigene of Kuchingoro, Mrs. Magdalene Onya, has been a victim of flooding since 2012.
“The road to throw the trash is difficult because there are broken bottles. There are a lot of clogged gutters very close to my house both left and right.”
When asked if the gutters are ever cleaned? Onya said, “Nobody does the cleaning. It is only when it rains that the water will wash it. The government doesn’t clean the gutters. Residents only attempt to do so when students are on holidays.
“These clogged gutters have affected me personally because when it rains heavily the water floods my compound. My children are affected health-wise. The water that comes into the compound is dirty and smelly. It comes from faraway gutters with waste matters. One of my daughters experienced skin rashes so I had to take her to the hospital.
“The flood water comes into the compound and even the house. The water will block the door and get into the house. When floods happen, I am disturbed; my things get spoiled in the house.
“I have been in this house for over 20 years and we did not experience flooding until 2012. I think what caused it is the collective drainages from the main road, Julius Berger’s construction and the new estate opposite us. All the drainages have been directed into the community.”
In addition, those who actually try to dispose their waste properly end up dumping it by the roadside or path ways leading to schools, churches, market and health centre.
15-year-old Marylyn Lira who lives close to the refuse dump said “We dump our refuse here because we don’t have anywhere else to do so. We normally see things like rats and snakes. I am afraid because this place is not good for a dumpsite. Moreover, it is a burial ground.”
In order to maintain a clean and safe environment, the FCT Minister, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello, has flagged off a household sanitation campaign in all the area councils.
FCTA has already put in place a mechanism to reward the cleanest area council in the Federal Capital Territory with a befitting prize.
The minister made this disclosure at the flagging-off exercise of the Household and Community Sanitation exercise in Kwali, headquarters of Kwali Area Council on Saturday.
The minister emphasised that his administration has considered the policy of reward and punishment as it concerns environmental sanitation to encourage residents to proactively clean their immediate environment.
Malam Bello revealed that the chairman of the cleanest area council at the end of the year would not only be recognised, but would enjoy certain privileges even at the national level.
The minister reiterated that the issues of improved personal hygiene and removal of environmental nuisances in area councils and satellite towns is on the front burner of the current FCTA.
The need to go back to the old ways of keeping our environment clean necessitated the introduction of the FCT Household and Community Sanitation Exercise and therefore urged council chairmen, traditional rulers and community leaders to key in.
He also promised that the traditional ruler in whose domain is the cleanest area council would also be adequately rewarded.
The minister assured that the FCTA would support the area councils financially and with quality policies to drive this laudable programme.
“It is our duty individually and collectively to safeguard and maintain our environment because nobody can do it better than us.”
He noted that the community-based approach to environmental sanitation would lead to a more realistic and sustainable effort in maintaining the environment.
Malam Bello emphasised that the culture of a clean environment being spearheaded by household and community leaders must be brought back to our society, stressing that the people must be involved in order to get it right.
The minister insisted that children and wards should be taught the importance of a clean environment so as to eradicate avoidable diseases like lassa fever which naturally can be tackled if rodents are avoided in our houses.
He urged the people of Abaji not to wait for someone to come and teach them how to clean their environment, adding that the behaviour must be instilled and sustained.
The Minister of Environment, Hajiya Amina Mohammed, stated that sanitation is vital for human health as healthy people are more productive at work. She noted that a clean environment is a collective responsibility for healthy living.
Hajiya Mohammed added that healthy communities also offer more lucrative market for our goods and services.
Similarly, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, has entered into a partnership with Japanese International Cooperation Agency, JICA, to promote integrated solid waste management in the Federal Capital Territory.
Director of the board, Mr. Shehu Lawan, said “we want to enlighten FCT residents to separate their waste so that when our officials pick them up it will be easier for them. Cans and plastic rubbers should be put in separate green bins, while papers, nylon, kitchen waste and other waste should be put in the blue bins provided by the board.
“We are starting the pilot programme with residents of Life Camp; we have distributed the bins to all residents. Our team will come three times a week to collect them. We have dedicated new compacting trucks that will carry the waste separately.
“I believe that the programme will be implemented because the minister is involved and has encouraged us to move on with it.’’
While the onus is on residents to keep their environment clean, the bearing is on the authorities concerned to provide dump sites where waste can be safely disposed off.