Abia state has recently been ranked as one of the dirtiest states in Nigeria, taking the position from Lagos state. Aba is one of the most commercially vibrant cities in Eastern Nigeria. Residents of the city are renowned for their enterprising spirit and commercial endeavors, making the city one of Nigeria’s foremost commercial hubs. Due to the influx of traders and buyers into the city, Aba is surrounded by numerous markets, among which Ngwa Road Market is prominent. Located in Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State, the market is popular among residents as the go-to point for buyers of clothing materials, shoes, and other accessories.
With significant commercial activities come heavy waste in markets across the city, including Ngwa Market. However, due to a poor disposal system, waste and rubbish used by traders and commuters in the market are dumped indiscriminately around no thanks to the terrible Government structure under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. Over the years, the waste has become a permanent feature of the market and the larger Aba metropolis, exposing traders and passers-by to a probable epidemic and other environmental hazards.
This filth is not limited to just Ngwa road, taking a walk through major parts of Abia state revealed that too many strategic roads, markets, and streets in the commercial city are littered with rubbish, dirt, and fecal materials. Places like Asa Road, Obohia Road, Ohanku Road, Portharcourt Road, as well as the popular Ariaria Market are all struggling for the unenviable position of being one of the dirtiest hot spots in the state.
The Ariaria International Market is a market located in Aba. The market is one of the largest markets in West Africa. Aba itself is colloquially referred to as the “China of Africa” because of the peoples’ versatility in the making of wears and leather works, chief among whom are traders in Ariaria. But due to poor waste disposal system, the market is barely different from a pigsty whenever it rains.
On Port Harcourt Road, by far the most despicable mountain of waste is located at the purported entrance of National High School. The spot, popularly known as Crystal Park Dustbin Junction, is notorious among residents of the state for its heavy stench and fecal waste materials that have blocking the dilapidated and now abandoned Port Harcourt Road.
In 2013, an environmental right organisation based in Aba, Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD) also described the commercial nerve city of Abia State as the dirtiest city across the country. The organisation decried the level of refuse dump littered in the major street in Aba after assessing strategic points like Ngwa Road, Asa road by St. Micheals, Ogbor hill, Jubilee, and Hospital Roads, among others. It noted that in most areas, the drainage system has been blocked by waste, with the environment oozing with odour from the gutters.
In 2016, data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that four of the worst cities in the world for air pollution were in Nigeria. The cities named and shamed in the WHO report for high PM10 levels include Onitsha, Kaduna, Umuahia, and of course Aba.
Although the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has always claimed to be doing its best to address the environmental menace via the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, the waste armada continues to be a recurring feature of city life in Aba.
In Abia, according to a report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on revenues, deductions, disbursement, and application of funds by NDDC, the agency allocated huge sums for several intervention projects in Abia state between 2011 and 2019. The intervention areas included allocation for waste disposal intervention at ₦506, 222,000 which received no special attention within the period under review. The money was supposedly utilised for other projects in the state.
For Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to be in his second tenure and still has this overbearing problem of waste disposal in his hands shows that there must be something terribly wrong with his Government. It has been reported that the former waste disposal agency was disbanded by the Governor due to lack of funds. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu should put his newly constituted Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) in order to be able to quell this terrible problem ailing his state.
The Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) should not be constituted as one of his numerous money laundering agencies. It was set up for a reason and therefore should be put into action. Referencing the case of the filthy little city of Wuhan in China which was the genesis of the dreaded novel Coronavirus, the looming danger in form of a health pandemic as a result of the numerous open wastes in Abia state may be too much to handle.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK