By Olamide Adeniji
It cannot be denied that improper waste disposal is one of the problems bedevilling the city of Ibadan, capital of Oyo State and undeniably, the government is having difficulty solving this huge menace. Aside from the usual dilemma of unfrequent collection of door-to-door waste by the concerned authorities, the ancient city is also a mess with waste sighted on the median at different locations in the city.
It is becoming so worrisome that one wonders why policies on waste disposal are not being complied with. Apart from these wastes being an eyesore, they also have wider implications as far as health is concerned because when you have a filthy environment, all kinds of health challenges will come in.
Take for example one of the oldest markets in Ibadan: Bodija Market. The median on Bodija market is quite filthy and unwelcoming to guests, despite the fact that residents throng this market for daily home needs.
Oyo state generates more Solid Waste than can be collected or disposed of. The facilities provided by the Government could not cope with the influx of people into the State. To address this problem, the Oyo State Waste Management Authority was established, which was a commercialized autonomous authority with the task of managing all domestic, commercial, institutional, and industrial solid waste as well as clearing primary and tertiary drains in the State. How far has this Agency fared in its duties?
Some stakeholders have boldly stated that the Oyo State government could have made additional money if it aggressively enforced mandatory disposal of solid waste.
These stakeholders have equally noted that the State Government, through Oyo State Waste Management Authority spends millions of naira each month on the disposal of garbage without getting any cogent results. The city is still dirty.
Some initiatives taken by the Oyo State Government, may not have been enough to tackle this menace. Though the Government may be putting its best, this best is not quite satisfactory. There must be sanctions for negligence; people who defy the simple practice of proper waste disposal must be penalised. Would residents say they are not aware of the health hazards that stem from waste or do they think it’s not their responsibility to dispose of waste?
Gone were those days when policymakers were jacked up to seemingly put the State in its former pre-independence and industrialization era when it was the toast of the elites for aesthetics and environmental cleanliness. Then, there was a culture in every community of how the environment must be made clean. Its Solid Waste and environment were monitored by the community, local councils, the chiefs, and the “dreaded Sanitary Inspectors” known in the local parlance as “wole wole”. Thus the environment was void of refuse as compared to this post-industrial era.
Back then in 2019, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde declared a state of emergency on refuse collection and waste management in the state. This excited many onlookers and observers in the state. He said that waste management had become a matter of emergency, which he said would be the business of all political appointees, the permanent secretaries, and the workforce.
Makinde then, said that poor waste management could have wider implications on the state of health of individuals in the state, adding that if care is not taken, the health situation of people in the state may worsen. Today, the zest is gone.
A cognitive look at the formal involvement of the Private Sector in Solid Waste Management Practices of Oyo State shows how the PSPs have failed residents of the State. Ibadan is one of the most populous cities in Nigeria with a population recorded as millions in the year 2000AD, but with huge Solid Waste abnormally seen day-in-day-out on the median of roads, canals, water drains, and other illegal places shouldn’t the PSPs be held accountable?
The Oyo State Government could not exclusively manage its Solid Waste until, when it accepted formally the Private Sector Participation (PSP). The government resolved to formally involve the Private Sector in its Solid Waste Management. There has been informal involvement of the Private Sector especially the Cart Pushers and Scavengers in the business of Waste management before the Government acceptance of the Private Sector in Waste Business. This informal participation was too minimal to make a difference, thus the Government took up the responsibility of Waste Collection and disposal thereby making the citizens look at Solid Waste Management as a social service to be borne by the Government. Even with the formal involvement of the Private Sector (PSP) in its Solid Waste Management, huge Solid Waste are abnormally dumped day in day out on median of roads, canals, water drains and other illegal locations.
Unfortunately, even with the involvement of the PSP the situation still looks the same. This ineffectiveness could be attributed to lack of managerial and equipment capabilities/capacities among the PSP operators; greed on their side; defective Policy, insufficient Public enlightenment, lack of proper enforcement machinery among other things.
This probably gave birth to contracting waste management to Recycling companies that may do justice to the system. Day-in-day-out, different governments have contracted different Recycling companies.
Just recently, the Oyo State Government unveiled Mottainai Recycling, a Lagos-based company, to manage its waste management. This is perhaps after failed attempts by some other recycling companies who came with fake promises, that hardly held any substance.
This gave birth to the termination of contracts with Waste Collectors. The Government also set the 10th of June 2022 as the deadline for the re-application of renewal of contract.
The new development, Honourable Commissioner for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Abiodun Oni said, was conceived in order to actualize the vision of keeping Oyo State clean while also harnessing other opportunities that are inherent in the proper waste management system.
The Commissioner further narrated instances where the State had heaps of refuse in open spaces, thereby, causing embarrassment and posing threats to the health of residents in the State.
However, there are some alleged moves by some of the Waste Managers, known as PSP Waste operators in the state to frustrate Mottainai’s activities in Oyo State.
A reliable source also confirmed that some of the Waste Managers, have also been threatening the life of its staff members.
These threats followed a meeting held with them at the Ministry of Environment recently, where the state government “gave its word that the operations of PSP Operators have been terminated in the state”.
The termination apparently was due to the inefficiency of most of the PSP operators in the state.
“This is a deliberate move to undermine the efforts being made by Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration, to find a lasting solution to the ongoing waste management crisis in the State”, the source said.
The PSPs according to him, “has been going around the State, conducting meetings among themselves and making very disturbing statements, including threatening us and our staff members with kidnaps and death threats”.
Unfortunately, the recent moves and pronouncements by the PSPs is disturbing. This could once more erode the confidence, being restored in the State’s waste management sector and jeopardise the recently recorded gains.
At this juncture, it is advisable that residents should stop paying PSP Operators for waste evacuation charges. They need to wait for the government, Mottainai, and PSPs to get their acts together. The government is also advised to give Mottainai a free operating hand.
Only Operators contracted by the State, after June 10 deadline should be considered as legally operating in the State.
The new architectural design in the State must be with a view to finding a lasting solution to the impending waste crisis, part of which is to revert the collection of both residential and commercial waste to PSP.
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