From BAMIGBOLA GBOLAGUNTE, Akure
Ondo State Government has intensified efforts at ensuring proper sanitation in all the nooks and crannies of the state going by its current efforts at bringing to book environmental offenders. This has added to the beauty of major towns and cities as they put on looks.
In particular, Akure, the state capital, which is the hub of social and commercial activities appears to have been dignified with the manner at which refuse are being dumped and the prompt attention displayed by environmental health officials.
Government appears uncomfortable with the level of environmental sanitation, hence its resolve to empower health officials in all its 18 local government areas to arrest and prosecute environmental offenders in accordance with the existing environmental laws.
Recently, no fewer than 13 persons were arrested in Akure alone for violating environmental laws and all the offenders were charged before a mobile court where their cases were decided. This development was unprecedented as government has not been that tough with environmental issues. Decision to go tough with the environmental offenders may not be unconnected with the current violation of environmental laws, as many environments are littered with refuse.
All the offenders arrested in Akure were arrested during the monthly environmental sanitation exercise. They were accused of violating environmental laws because they refused to stay at home during the period of the exercise and clean their surroundings.
They were fined in accordance with the gravity of their offences. Although the 13 offenders paid their fines on the spot, they were warned against further violation of environmental laws and other government policies.
With this development, the state may wear a new look soon as environmental health officials now parade major streets in major towns with to curb dumping of refuse on the roads and other public places, residential and commercial areas.
Chairman, Ondo State Waste Management Authority, Mr. Sina Fadamitan said government would no longer tolerate indiscriminate dumping of refuse and would continue to ensure total compliance with environmental laws, stressing that the action was backed up by laws made by the state House of Assembly.
He maintained that government would not hesitate to punish environmental offenders, pointing out that government has sensitized residents on the need for proper environmental sanitation, which he said is for the good of all and sundry.
He said the lackadaisical attitude of some residents was responsible for recent flooding in some parts of Akure: “The lackadaisical attitude of our people to clearing and cleaning of their gutters and other drainage system in their areas caused series of havoc to them, which may in turn cause diseases and epidemic.”
Fadamitan hinted that government embarked on channelisation of major rivers across to prevent flooding, adding that government concluded arrangement to commence what he called distilling of blocked drains in Akure and other major cities to ensure free flow of water.
While warning operators of illegal dump sites to desist, he said anyone caught operating illegal dump sites would be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the environmental laws.
General manager of the authority, Mr Ayo Mesilaya, who called for the support of the people in the desire of government to ensure a neat society, said flooding would soon become a thing of the past if the people would co-operate with government.
According to him, government was doing everything possible to prevent environmental degradation, with a view to ensure that the environment was well secured for all the residents. He enjoined the people to cultivate the habit of cleaning their environment.
Mesilaya who recalled that the state was predicted to be one of the states that may likely experience flooding this year, warned against blockage of drainage systems, even as he advised the people to rally round government to ensure a safe environment.
A resident of Gbogi, Akure, Mrs Enitan Oluwaseyi lauded the initiative of the government at ensuring a safe environment: “We now feel the effects of government action in all parts of the state and anyone who fails to co-operate with the government is an enemy of the people.
“The roads in my area which are known for heaps of refuse are now neat and we all enjoy living in this area. The dustbins provided by government are well utilised by the residents and we wish government continues with this trend.”