Akwa Ibom Sanitation Agency Talks Tough On Illegal Waste Disposal
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
In a bid towards sustaining the status of the cleanest state in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom State Environment Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPAWMA) has warned members of the public against indiscriminate dumping of refuses on the streets of Uyo and other major cities, saying this was against the plans of the Governor Udom Emmanuel to make Akwa Ibom the best investment destination in Nigeria.
Chairman of the agency, Prince Ikim, in a live radio interview, said henceforth, anyone caught between the hours of 6am and 7pm, dumping refuses would be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
According to him, the Akwa Ibom City Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency Law 2000, CAP 472, Part 2 section 6&7 prohibits anyone from littering or uncontrolled dumping of refuse in the state urban centres.
“With the environmental health officers that we have, we have already restructured a whole lot and the enforcement officers are on the streets, and anyone caught littering the environment from car or anywhere would be arrested and prosecuted.
“The issue of throwing wastes from the car would be a thing of the past. We have set aside 6am-7pm to evacuate those refuses and any person caught dumping refuse after is liable of the offence and can be arrested.”
On absence of receptacles in strategic places, the AKSEPAWMA boss said it has partnered a Chinese company to supply more receptacles as Uyo has expanded and needs bigger receptacles (dumpsters), while sanitary agents will move from house to house to check compliance with the cleanliness directive.
Ikim who revealed that his agency is in charge of the monthly restriction of movement sanitation exercise , however warned that, “Sanitation does not begin and end between 7 and 10am on the last Saturday of the month, it is an everyday responsibility of every citizen.
Prince Ikim stated that the agency has the responsibility of advising the government on environmental scientific policies and priority, technological activities affecting the environment and ecosystem of the state, identify and proffer solutions to environmental problems, control and monitor environment, bring up programmes, create awareness of the environment protection and information to ensure a clean environment with appropriate organs of the state and local governments to specific waste location that guarantee the safety, and surface of underground water system to enforce.
On recent resurface of wastes in some parts of the state despite Akwa Ibom being named the cleanest state in Nigeria, Prince Ikim described it as a political factor, saying: “during the electioneering and campaigns period, the opposition wanted to bring down the government at all cost.
“One of such strategies was dumping heaps of refuse on the road, with the sole aim of making political capital through sponsored media reports aimed at tarnishing the image of the state as the cleanest state in Nigeria, as well as to bank on such negative reports to embark on violent protests that were to result in a breakdown of law and order.”
He however assured that the government of Mr. Udom Emmanuel has restructured all apparatuses which he said were already in place including waste management, enforcement officers, and health officers, to ensure a clean and safe environment.
Prince Ikim revealed that the AKSEPAWMA Law authorised his team to visit manufacturing companies, residents, and abattoir to inspect and ascertain adherence to the best sanitary conditions, and warned illegal street traders who constituted a nuisance on the major arteries of the state capital to relocate to designated places.