Joe Effiong, Uyo
A few months after surviving the COVID-19 scare when more than 15 members of the press corps tested positive, workers in the Akwa Ibom State Government House have expressed concerns over a possible outbreak of epidemic owing to the disgusting stench from a nearby refuse dump.
The dumpsite located along Uyo Village Road and about 200 metres from the State Government House in Uyo, the State capital, was relocated to the site from Udo/Old Stadium Road axis in 2016 where residents had vacated no fewer than 30 surrounding buildings due to cases of deaths reported of those who lived nearby.
One of the victims, who died despite the intervention of the State Government, through the then Commissioner for Environment, Dr Iniobong Essien, who not just saw to her medical treatment outside the country, but also made a relocation plan for her on return, stirred protest in the area, leading Government to relocate the dumpsite to Uyo village road.
Unfortunately, the new dumpsite, which was initially declared temporary, has been used for over four years now and has continued to send an embarrassing stench into the Government House, especially the Press Corps and the Governor’s Lodge.
Also downwind of the dumpsite’s offensive odour are the Uyo Local Government Secretariat, Akwa Ibom State Judiciary, Police Area Command, Uyo, the new Traditional Rulers Complex, Health Centre, Uyo, Uyo Club, Governor’s Office Annex, and other private buildings surrounding the area.
Daily Sun observed that some business concerns along Wellington Bassey Way (Barracks) have relocated to safer areas as dealers have continued to complain of low patronage.
Landlords have complained of poor return in property investment as tenants have one left the area in droves, but prospective tenants have also avoided the area like plague
It has also been observed that disposal trucks conveying refuse to the dum psite have turned Barracks Road into waste dispensing area by freely leaving trails of refuse along the road, which, however, is a restricted area to certain categories of vehicles.
It was a disgusting site during the state’s anniversary celebrations to see refuse trucks, numbering over 10, pack at the Barracks/Brooks Street Globe roundabout, thus obstructing visitors coming into Government House and apparently causing embarrassment to the state government.
But the State Commissioner for Enviromment, Mr Charles Udoh, while admitting the existence of the embarrassing stench in Government House, enthused that government was working towards ameliorating it.
‘We are aware of the issue and are working towards getting rid of it. We have an investor who is coming to convert the waste to power, so the stench we have there and everything will soon disappear. We just talked to the guys, it is COVID-19 that slowed us down,’ he said
Asked when the investors would arrive to start work so that the stench would eventually disappear, Udoh said: ‘Well, I cannot give you a timeline now; but we are in discussion with them. Rest assured that we are working towards it.
‘It is not just moving the refuse from there because if we move from there we are going to dump it somewhere else and it’s going to create another problem. Rather we are looking at a way of managing the waste and converting it into wealth so that it would not be injurious to human health.’
At the dumpsite, one of the scavengers-in-chief, Mr Edet Ekeng, alias Ejima, told Daily Sun that they were helping the Government to turn the waste into wealth by employing several people who were hitherto unemployed
He, however, asked that the State Government establish proper waste management plans as is done in Aba and Asaba where they usually take their goods for sale.