.. State Government Fails to Commence Remediation project at Uyo Village Road Dump-site
By Ekemini Simon
The people of Akpayak Community in Uyo local government area have called on the Government of Akwa Ibom State, to relocate the dump-site at Uyo village road to ONNA or Abak local government area.
The people of the area stated this through the Family Head of Akpayak, Chief Joseph Okpon during a recent visit by the Zero Waste Ambassadors (ZEWA).
The Family Head of the community said his reason for the recommendation is that since their several complaints over the years about the health hazard of the dump-site has fallen on deaf ears, it appears when the residents of the governor’s hometown in ONNA or the Deputy Governor’s hometown in Abak complain, immediate action will be taken.
He said “Just because you are in an air conditioned room or car, you don’t know what we are facing due to the dump-site. I have told the Deputy Governor before that it should be relocated to Abak. I am also saying, they should relocate it to ONNA so that when the people complain from there, it will be taken seriously.”
Akpayak Community located about two poles to Akwa Ibom State Government House has hosted a dumpsite of waste gathered from the capital city for years.
The Akwa Ibom State Government had a few years ago relocated the waste dumpsite to a new location at an area called Uyo Village Road which is still within the Akpayak community, yet without proper decommissioning of the former.
Chief Okpon accused the government of Akwa Ibom State of not living up to its responsibility of protecting lives stressing that the pollution from the Uyo village road dump-site has caused residents of this community to die by installment.
He expressed displeasure that even after the State government had refused to decommission the dumpsite that was located around the old stadium in his community, it was inconsiderate for the new site to still be located in his community.
Chief Okpon added ” The new dump-site has blocked our stream. Waste is scattered everywhere and as a result, we have lost so many lives because of pollution. We are simply dying by installment.”
Chief Okpon revealed that besides the health hazards occasioned by the waste, they are affected by social problems especially as the dumpsite has become a centre for drug business and den for armed robbers.
He said “People now push drugs there. We can’t go to our farms now because they rape our people. We asked the government that since they have moved out of the area, they should station police there. Instead of policemen to secure the place, they join in the cocaine business.
” I want to State clearly today that the present government of Governor Udom Emmanuel is not interested in human beings. So much sickness is caused by the type of air we breathe. Personally, I have abandoned my plantation because high industrial and domestic waste has taken over our farmlands.”
Remediation Project Yet to Commence Two Months After Approval
The government of Akwa Ibom State at the State Executive Council meeting of December 30, 2022 announced the approval granted for the remediation of the dump site at Uyo village road and landfill management.
The State government noted that the Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals and the Akwa ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency are to execute the task.
Yet, investigation has shown that over two months after the approval, work is yet to commence.
When TheMail Newspaper went on a fact finding tour on the project on March 13, 2023, only signpost of the project was sighted.
However, routine work of tractors pushing the waste disposed closer to the road inside the ravine was ongoing.
Checks at the gully close by the dump-site revealed that the gully is cutting deeper into the residential area. One of the farmers sighted closer to the gully who gave her name as Mercy told TheMail that the gully caved in deeper during the last rain in early March.
Effort to contact the Commissioner, Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals, Mr. Charles Udoh for comments was unsuccessful. He neither responded to his calls, text and Whats-app messages.
Yet, the Chairman of Akwa ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency, Prince Ikim in response to TheMail’s text message had surprisingly said that the Agency had commenced a Bio remediation project at the dump-site and is now in the second phase.
When TheMail sought to know how his claims had been executed when what the newspaper had seen was contrary to his claims, he failed to respond further.
Save Akpayak Community Now- ZEWA Tells Akwa Ibom Government
The Zero Waste Ambassadors (ZeWA) have called on the government of Akwa Ibom State to immediately relocate the dump-site at Uyo village road to a permanent site where the waste will be transformed to wealth.
ZeWA is an advocacy platform which seeks to bring together various actors involved in waste governance for improved waste management policies at the sub-national level.
ZeWA through the Akwa Ibom State Coordinator, Faith Paulinus called on the government of Akwa Ibom State to also decommission the old dump-site together with the relocation of the dump-site at Uyo village road noting that the pollution emanating from the dump-site has in no little way destroyed lives in the community.
ZeWA also called on the government of Akwa Ibom State to immediately commence the remediation project at the Uyo village dump-site.
According to Paulinus ” We have visited the dump-site and sadly, it is still business as usual. The routine work of pushing the waste inside the ravine is ongoing.
” We are also asking the State Government to come open with its plan on how they want to remediate the dump-site. Best practice will also demand that the community is carried along in this project.
” Besides, we are asking the government to release money for work at the permanent dump-site in Itu and also ensure that the project there is designed to turn the waste into wealth. We can remember that the Waste Management Agency a few years ago had a summit on turning waste to wealth. We never saw the implementation and it appears the summit was just for fun. It is time for them to put what was learned at the summit into action.”
He recommended that the government of Akwa Ibom State need to urgently adopt zero waste management methodology adding that where there is waste crisis, there is failure of leadership.