Overrun by GARBAGE! Communities under threat of epidemic outbreak

A major road linking Akowo, Liforte and Awotan in a very bad condition. Photos: Seyi Sokoya

Residents of Adaba, Akowo communities in Ido Local Government Area of Oyo State are in danger of contracting respiratory and other diseases if nothing is done to manage the waste being dumped in their communities. SEYI SOKOYA was in the communities, reporting that the road network there also needs government attention.

THE Ijokodo, Apete, Awotan, Adaba, Akowo aarea of Ibadan represents an important section of the city around which other parts of the city have developed. Awotan, for instance, is believed to be the source or foundation of Ibadan, the now thriving city, one of the largest in West Africa.

But the area is, perhaps, the most neglected in the state.

Apart from the terrible road linking the communities , which the state government is now reconstructing, residents are also facing environmental problems which could be injurious to their health. The persistent stench, smoke and deplorable condition of the roads in the area have forced the populace to cry out to government.

According to Sunday Tribune investigation, life has not been rosy for both visitors and residents in these communities owing to what they suffer on a daily basis, especially the road network which is yet to be completed four years after the 2011 flood incident that ransacked almost the whole of Ibadan and its environs.

Sunday Tribune learnt that some people who could no longer bear the challenges have relocated to other places, while those who don’t have alternatives have adapted to the condition and hazards they go through on a daily basis.

At present, the current challenges of people in many  communities in this area, especially that of Adaba, Akowo, Cooperative Adaba, Idi Osan, Agunrege, Idi Ope, NISER, among others, have been multiplied. To the residents of the communities, what they encounter now is a bigger problem which is said to be injurious to their health as a result of the health hazards a dump site owned by the state government, popularly called Asunle, unleashes on passersby and the entire communities.

The dump site
The dump site

The large expanse of land allocated by the government for depositing collected refuse from the city and its environs has become life-threatening to the communities around the sites as the  stench and toxic water it produces are affecting them while also polluting streams, wells and boreholes all over the communities.

Some of the most affected communities, especially Akowo, Adaba, among others, have cried out to the government on the need to take swift action before the situation gets out of hand. Sunday Tribune also learnt that some members of the communities have also restrained the refuse conveners from further depositing refuse on the site.

Sunday Tribune’s recent visit to the area revealed that aside the bad state of the road, about 50 communities in the area are in danger of contracting deadly diseases.

Workers who restricted Sunday Tribune from taking pictures of the site also refused to make comments. It was, however, gathered that a private waste management company called Western Africa Waste Management (WAWM), which recently took over waste management in the state, recently visited the site and had promised to take necessary steps.

Sunday Tribune sighted trucks coming one after the other to offload refuse very close to the main gate of the site due to the bad state of the road on the site,  which has no gate with a low fence that has become an eyesore.

While speaking with Sunday Tribune the Chairman Akowo community, Mr Olusoji Ogundiran, lamented that the community and the neighbouring ones still face challenges despite several complaints to the Ministry of Environment and Waste Management at Agodi, Gate, Ibadan, adding that, “the reason we decided to cry out again was to intensify effort for a lasting solution and prevent cholera outbreak in this part of Oyo State.

“We are appealing to Governor Abiola Ajimobi to save people from contracting cholera, typhoid and related diseases. The smell and air pollution, especially when garbage is burnt is unbearable and injurious to health. All the communities, mostly those close to the site suffer greatly from the smokes we inhale and horrible smell that comes out of the site. We are pleading with the government to come to our aid and take necessary action, for us to enjoy life once again.”

Ogundiran also lamented that the trucks conveying refuse to the site have contributed to the bad state of the road.

“Though the government is trying its best to restore life back to the area, especially with the fixing of Apete bridge, we urge him (Governor Ajimobi) to make it a priority to complete the road and address the issue of Asunle in no time,” he said

One Mr Adeoti, a resident also pleaded with the government that the communities would be glad to be free from health hazards and unforeseen crimes in the site, adding that: “The site could be an avenue to harbour crimes and other ungodly acts. We have noticed some people entering the site at night and one could imagine what anyone could be doing in such place at night. We don’t pray for another Ajaale (kidnapper’s den) in our community. This is why we are calling on the government, especially on how the drivers dump refuse on the edges, of the site which is much closer to the main road.”

garbage-3Pa Emmanuel Awoyemi, one of the community elders told Sunday Tribune that people have contracted various health problems from the dumping site, especially through polluted waters.

“We have also been battling with flies too because they have taken over the community as a result of stench. We have lodged complaints many times and nothing was done about it. We just can’t wait for the government to evacuate the garbage and make the environment hygienic, because this wasn’t what they planned to do with the land in 1985. We were told that it was initially allocated for an airport, but we were shocked when it later turned into a dumping site,” he said.

Sunday Tribune also spoke with a patent medicine retailer, whose shop is very close to the site on her experience. “This is what we face here and I don’t have any choice but to come and sell to support the family. In fact, I have stopped my children from coming to the shop because of the hazards of the water and the smell. You could see that I am the only one here; other occupants of the other shops have left. I will be glad if the government can quickly do something about it because it has discouraged people from patronising me.”

Another resident, Mr Adewale Oluwatosin disclosed that the site has caused the community enormous damage. “The situation is really pathetic, especially when rain falls. The entire community will be covered in thick odour.”

Sunday Tribune also witnessed the visit of the representatives of the government led by the Commissioner for Environment and Water Recourses, Mr Isaac Isola, alongside the Permanent Secretary, Water Recourses, Mr Soji Oguntola and the Ido Local Government Caretaker Chairman, Honourable Wahab Oladejo, among others,  to the site penultimate week as members of the communities trooped out to express their dissatisfaction, but the commissioner pleaded with them and assured that necessary steps would be taken in due course.

Sunday Tribune also noticed during the visit that the wastes by the gate had been pushed further inside and also created channels to enable trucks to dump refuse at the deeper end of the site.

Speaking with Sunday Tribune, Mr Isola urged people in the area to exercise patience, while assuring that a drastic step would be taken in no time. According the commissioner: “We have listened to their complaints and we have come to the site to see things for ourselves. But I want the communities to exercise more patience because we have to take the report to the authorities. I assure them that the government will address the issues in no time.

“I have discovered that government needs to do more for communities here, especially in ameliorating environmental problems. I am aware water is no more drinkable. I have asked experts to examine the degree of the pollution in order to provide boreholes. I have also noticed that the road network is not passable, probably because of the heaviness of trucks. In view of this, the ministry and the local government will deliberate to provide a lasting solution to the issue of road,” he said.

Ishola also noted that the intention of the government was to convert all the waste into wealth, saying “this was why the government is open to public/private partnership in converting the huge waste to wealth. The recent studies we got showed that the waste we generate in Ibadan alone is up to 80 kilowatt of power which is believed to be enough to serve Ibadan and its environs I have informed the communities that this dump site is one of the sites that is likely to host the conversion programme and the communities stand to gain a lot from this venture, especially in the area of employment and social responsibilities. One of the duties of the ministry of environment is to control pollution. We are concerned about this and we have many technologies to control the odour. I want to assure people that we will be having regular air pollution control on monthly basis.”

The caretaker chairman, Oladejo, also urged people of the communities to be calm, assuring them that he is confident that government will provide a lasting solution to the problem.