…As Community Raises Alarm over Robbers Den at Dumpsite
By Ekemini Simon
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (Era/FoEN) has called on the Akwa Ibom State government to decommission the Akpayak dumpsite in line with international best practices.
Akpayak Community over the years has played host to dump sites where wastes from the capital city of Uyo is disposed. The dump site was recently relocated to a nearby site in the community even as the State Government is yet to fully decommission the first site.
In a remark at community dialogue with Akpayak Community held on Tuesday, February 8, the Program Manager of the organisation, Ubrei-Joe Mariere, said a visit to the dumpsite gives insight into the health, environmental and security hazards faced by the host community.
Mariere, who sympathised with the community, called on the government not just to leave the site to a nearby one but ensure it is properly commissioned in line with international best practices.
The Program Manager warned that if the site is not decommissioned appropriately, not just the community will be at loss, but there is a possibility for environmental and health crisis to emanate from there and spread.
He further recommended to the government to be deliberate about transforming its dumpsite to resource sites through policies and provision of infrastructures that will aid the process.
Mariere who said the resource sites will generate employment opportunities and revenue for the government explained ” To transform waste to resources starts from people’s home. We must start the practice of separation of wastes. Keep metal, plastic and the ones that can decompose differently.
“When they are disposed of in that format, at the resource site, people that need it will come for it. In waste management, there is actually no waste. People will come and look for what they want or buy them from you. Even food waste can be converted to biogas like what was done in Ibadan.”
On his part, the Family Head of Akpayak, Chief Joseph Okpon, said members of Akpayak community have advanced from being impacted by environmental degradation and disturbed by rodents and reptiles to now battling with criminals who find the dumpsite that was not properly decommissioned as a haven.
He mentioned that armed robbers and hard drug merchants now use the dumpsite as a base.
Chief Okpon noted “Armed robbers live there in a bunker. The police know about it. The government does not help us. Akwa Ibom State Government is not serious with Akpayak dumpsite. They said they will take the dumpsite to its permanent site. Long years have gone and the elapse of time has proven that they will not do anything. The government of Akwa Ibom State is never concerned about our plight.
“The trend at the new dumpsite is that some children live there and do all sorts of things. The government of today is not like the government before. They don’t listen. Despite the fact that the new dumpsite stinks, the police stay there to collect money but criminality reigns supreme there. Thieves are now staying at the dumpsite and operating from there at night.”
While complaining that the new dumpsite has polluted their water source, the Akpayak Community leader said if the government fails to give a listening ear, plans are in place for the community to hold a protest against the dumpsite and halt operations there.