THE increase in the number of persons in any community comes with its challenges. This explains why cities across the world develop strategies specifically to continuously address the challenges peculiar to them and indeed any other phenomenon that has taken global dimension. In specific terms, the Nigerian capital city of Abuja is grappling with the challenges of explosion in population, inadequacy of facilities and infrastructure and the growing threat of waste to the environment. Despite these challenges, however, the administration does not appear to be resting on its oars, as there is a gladdening departure from the lamentations about helplessness, which used to be common with the authorities administering the territory.
As is currently being witnessed in Abuja, the authorities are making some noticeable efforts to address the challenges of waste management. In Garki District around the Garki market area, for instance, there used to be mountain of waste that was not being properly managed. But the current administration, headed by Muhammad Bello, came in and, for the first time in the city, it procured the mobile trucks that are stationed in that area to evacuate waste. The practice in the past was to hire equipment to remove waste from that area and other parts of the city which cost a lot of money and made it quite expensive to frequent these sites. But with these mobile trucks now stationed there, the people have a new and effective system of waste disposal.
Initially, there were roro buckets in that place. But looking at the population around that Garki area, it is so much that the roro container could not accommodate what was generated there. Within a day, that container got filled over and over. But with the mobile truck, people now have a new way of trying to get their waste disposed. Not only just disposed; it contains the waste and removes the risk of rodents coming to scatter the waste and disseminate diseases. That has been taken care of with the waste now stored in a container from where, it goes to the dump site.
Again, around Kubwa road axis, over the years, there used to be a waste dump that was left unattended to. The same container truck has now been applied in that place to evacuate the waste that is in that area. This same system has also been applied to the airport road where pockets of dumps and huge wastes, especially in Lugbe remained despite series of evacuation over a long period of time.
Beyond the collect and dump system, the main idea in the FCT is to take the waste to wealth initiative beyond rhetoric. The FCT Administration has gone into partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), an investment arm of the Japanese government, to commence the sorting of waste right from source for the purpose of recycling. It has started with Life Camp District as a pilot study. The aim for now is to use a particular day of the week to sort the organic waste and separate them from the recyclables. The AEPB truck goes round the whole area to pick up this waste and take it to the dump site for the purposes of recycling. The plan is to work further on the collected recyclables so that people who want to reuse them can come in and buy, thereby bringing back revenue to the purse of the government and to other investors. All these are in stages and in process and with time, the FCT Administration intends to engage other investors to apply these measures in other parts of the city to ensure that the whole idea is sustained. It has been applied in Life Camp and the administration has realised that people are really gingered towards cooperating. The plan is to gradually capture other districts like Maitama, Jabi, Utako, and Gwarimpa through public/private partnerships.
The FCT Administration is aware that any attempt to get people to buy into this will require some form of incentive as motivator for what they bring to the waste sorting centre. It is currently designing policy frameworks that will ensure that these wastes are paid for after being measured in kilos. This will help to ensure that the city is clean because when people know that they have benefits for bringing their waste to a particular point, they will be gingered towards trying to buy into that.
To give this approach a human face, however, FCT Administration needs to embark on aggressive sensitisation to adequately inform the public and make them aware of what is happening. When this is done, FCT residents will get to know about these districts and areas that they are doing these waste sorting and collection so that they can participate and earn money for themselves. I give kudos to the FCT Administration for these laudable initiatives.
- Akilu writes in from Durumi II District, Abuja.