By Sola Ojo
Running an effective waste management system in Kaduna State has been a major challenge confronting the state.
Indiscriminate dumping of refuse has become a sort of tradition in many parts of the state. Having become a growing concern to public health experts, stakeholders and other residents, the call to salvage the unpalatable situation increases by the day.
A solid waste management expert and chief executive officer, ZL Global Alliance, Nigeria, Mrs. Abiola Bashorun, once said that an average person generates at least 1 kilogramme of solid waste per day.
What that means is that 1,000 Nigerians generate one tonne of plastics and other solid waste, irrespective of the part of the country they reside in, daily.
If 1,000 persons generate one tonne of waste daily, Kaduna, with a population projection of about 10 million, should be generating about 10,000 tonnes per day, which is huge, considering the weak waste management system in its major and inner streets.
According to BioEnergy Consults, Nigeria generates more than 32 million tonnes of solid waste annually, mostly by households and local businesses, out of which only 20-30 per cent is collected while the remaining 70 per cent is indiscriminately dumped in uncompleted buildings, streets, drains, roadsides and rivers.
Despite the huge annual budgetary provisions for the Kaduna State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency, the state is battling waste management as a part of the required measures to mitigate climate change realities and make the environment habitable for humans and the ecosystem as they interact.
Commenting on the indiscriminate dumping of plastic bottles and other solid waste on Kaduna roads by marketers and residents alike, executive director, Bridge that Gap and global climate change ambassador, Ms Gloria Kasang Bulus, asked the ministry and the agency responsible for waste evacuation and the environmental task force to be strategic in their responsibilities.
According to Gloria, “People will need a better location to drop their used plastic bottles and other solid waste for possible evacuation and recycling so that we can make the environment safer for us and other users and this is a government responsibility.
“So, there is the need for an effective evacuation strategy to be put in place, looking at the volume of waste generated in the state daily. We should further look at how to harness the waste generated or evacuated to something that will benefit the people much more than pollution, floods and outbreak of diseases associated with indiscriminate dumping of these wastes.”
However, there is a company that is doing everything to help the Federal Government and Kaduna State government mitigate climate change realities through evacuation and recycling of plastics and metal wastes.
Headquartered atop hectares of land at the densely-populated Kaduna community called Kurmi Marshi in Kaduna South Local Government Area, with about 600 skilled and unskilled workers, SPC Integrated Recycling Company, Nigeria, may be an answer to concerns of environmentalists about plastic and metal waste evacuation and recycling in Nigeria.
The manager of the plastic department of the company, Hassan Faisal Suleiman, told this correspondent that it was started by an individual 15 years ago at a place called Fertiliser, in Kaduna, but it has spread to about 80 per cent of northern states , as well as Lagos, Osun and Edo, from where it is expected to cover the entire country.
According to Hassan, the company sources its materials from community dump sites, house-to-house purchase with the help of youths who move about with trucks.
“We are open to everyone and we do encourage people to sort their waste into metal, plastic and even garbage for agricultural purposes. We have boys who go round to buy these materials using scales. They are also paid on arrival, though the payment depends on the quality of the materials because there are plastics that are not recyclable for now.
“We sort them into various categories and colours. We crush them to reduce the sizes, wash them to rid them off impurities and then dry to remove the moisture. After these, they are fed into the recycling machine to produce pellets. From there, the pellets are transferred into another process entirely where we make clothings, polyester, kettles, plates, spoons, cups, baskets, etc.
“So we encourage people to get a place to keep their used plastic bottles and get paid, instead of dumping them indiscriminately.
“This means we are helping the country through waste management. We collect at least five tonnes of waste daily here in Kaduna and more than that sometimes (a tonnes is what a single cabin pick-up van carries). These are items that would have ordinarily ended up in drains or rivers, leading to floods and diseases outbreak.
“We take apprentices and the government can sponsor people, especially youths. Many Nigerians will agree with us that unemployment plays a significant role in the issue of insecurity we are having as a country. And because this business accommodates both learned and unlearned, we have managers who have never gone to school and they manage huge resources at their disposal very well,” he said.
He, however, lamented the high cost of energy and security threat to the survival of the company in its present location in Kaduna. He added that the company, in collaboration with security agencies, was doing its best to secure the staff and the company.
“We are trying our best. We have guards, while liaising with the divisional police office here in Kurmi Marshi to further safeguard our staff and property. Since we have been here for about one year, we have not experienced any external security compromise.
“On power, honestly, both the public electricity and generating sets are challenging. As you can see, we are running on generators because there is no public electricity supply.
“Some of these machines need pre-warming of about three hours before they are put to use. Even with that, we use gas to further heat them to enable them to produce good outcomes. One machine consumes about one million naira per month and we have three of such machines. But, we are planning to generate our power source,” he explained.
One of the women working in the factory, Mrs. Esther Ayuba, said, with what she was earning, she was supporting her husband in domestic expenditure and payment of school fees of their children.
“I joined them here early last year, which has been helping me to support my family economically. I love what I’m doing. Women need to have a legal means of earnings. Women should get engaged to earn income and, no matter how small, it will contribute to the family’s economic needs.
“The idea of depending on your husband for every item you or the family need is long gone. The way things are now, we need to join hands as mother and father or husband and wife so we can make ourselves and our children better citizens,’ she said.
The 26th conference or COP26 of the parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was possibly the largest gathering on climate issues ever, hosted in Glasgow, was where hundreds of heads of state, diplomats, climate experts, business leaders, journalists and campaigners agreed on collective climate mitigation and adaptation strategy development and engagement.
As Kaduna State government spends about N4.6bn (representing about 1.7 per cent of the N278.5 billion total budget for the year 2022) on its Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and KEPA, it behoves on the implementers to develop effective communication strategies and tactics that can incorporate the majority of its citizens into maintaining cleaner and safer Kaduna, as a part of collective adaptation plans to mitigate climate change.