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Nigerians decry the scourge of polymer products’ wastes

Indiscriminate Disposal Of Plastics, Nylon Breed Mosquito
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos

In the past, people used to carry goods in sacks and not in nylons or plastic bags and bottles. At that time, you hardly witnessed indiscriminate waste dumped along roads, streets, culverts, backyards and bush.

With the introduction of plastic and nylon materials today, Nigerians started witnessing challenges in waste disposal. The situation becomes worse during the rainy season because plastic bottles and nylon water bags littered around are being carried away by either water, winds or humans to the streams, rivers, gutters and so on.

In developed world, used plastic products and nylon are usually recycled to produce items that will generate huge revenue for government. But unfortunately in Nigeria, that opportunity is not being utilised due to lack of technological knowhow and political will.

In Plateau State, particularly within the urban city, there are still suburbs within where there are no organised streets or settlements; plastic objects and nylon are being thrown indiscriminately. Big streams like River Dilimi down to Angwan Rogo in Jos North is very dirty, because of waste dump. Unfortunately, most vegetables are produced on the bank of the river.

Vegetables like carrot, green leaves, cabbage, and many others are being washed at the river. Besides, the plastic and nylon waste litter the Mechanic village in Jos with irons blocking public roads and waterways especially in Farin Gada of Jos North.

Deep West of mines and Zaria Bypass was gully erosion that has constituted risks to human lives. This was caused by indiscriminate dumping of waste especially nylon and plastic rubbers on the water channels.

A resident of Jos North, Mr. James Pam, told The Guardian that the West of Mines gully erosion had once killed a family of five, adding that when the river overflows its banks, it covered the road and the driver did not know where the bridge was and he made the wrong guess and fell into the river where they all perished.

Pam, who is a hospital attendant explained that the hazards constituted by this waste dump include widespread epidemic such malaria, typhoid fever, and all kinds of airborne diseases.

“It causes gully erosions, because of the blockage of waterways. Sanitary conditions at the urban and rural areas are very poor. Another major thing is that it creates primary condition for flooding during rainy season.

‘Government Needs Do More Than Lip Service To Recycling’
By Tobi Awodipe

AS the world marked this year’s World Environment Day, many Nigerians remain dissatisfied and disappointed with the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and their PSP operators, accusing them of lackadaisical attitude to duty.

Grace (surname withheld) is a resident of Mile 2 in Lagos and she says she cannot remember the last time the refuse collectors came around to her area. “We had to start burning the refuse ourselves when we didn’t see them for almost three months. The last time we saw them, they came to ask for money and the youths in the area chased them away as they had been very irregular. They only come around to collect money and not to do their job. They are supposed to pick the refuse weekly, it turned to once in two weeks, we didn’t complain. It turned to once in three weeks, we still didn’t complain, even as refuse littered everywhere.

“Eventually, they came when they liked and we all agreed in my area to stop payment, seeing as they stopped rendering the service we were paying them for and I guess they decided to stop coming because of that.

“Government is to blame as far as I am concerned, because they are not regulating these people well. Why should we be paying for services we don’t get?” she said
The tale is not any different in the Fadeyi area of Lagos, as residents have taken to dumping their refuse on the major roads for the waste collectors. According to Sola Durojaiye, a petty trader in the area, it was the PSP operators, who directed them to put their refuse at the street’s entrance, because they couldn’t navigate the narrow streets.

However, the refuse started piling up due to irregular pick up and the houses and shops beside the refuse started fighting whoever dropped refuse there, even going as far as threatening them with charms. “So, that was how we started putting the refuse on the road for them to pick up,” she said.

This same issue besets many streets in the Lawanson area of Lagos, as refuse is dumped at the junction of the streets, spending days and even weeks sometimes, before it is cleared. Residents are already expressing fears of possible diseases outbreak, pleading with the government to look into the matter as quickly as possible.

While urging government to take recycling ver serious, Chika Uzuana noted that recycling is a good way of reducing the volume of refuse and preserving the environment.

“I believe the government should do more than pay lip service to this issue of recycling wastes. They claim they want us to recycle, but you would only see recycling points in posh areas; I live in Ikorodu and I don’t think I’ve seen a single recycling point anywhere around here. Anytime the smallest drop of rain falls here, people quickly dump all manner of refuse on the road and in the gutters and when the rain stops, you see everywhere littered with rubbish, plastic bottles and nylon.

For instance, I believe government can tell people to drop say, 200 plastic bottles or x amount of nylon and get a token amount of money, this would encourage people to do it with all seriousness.”

Residents Of Olodi Apapa Resort To Cart Pushers
By Kemi Sokoya

The Guardian investigation reveals that most residents of Olodi Apapa in Lagos prefers to dispose their wastes through local cart pushers, mainly of Hausa stock, who have sees it as means of earning a living.

At a restaurant in the area, Chidinma obi said, “What I normally do is to select the plastics such as plastic bottles, broken chairs, and containers from the nylons, papers, and other wastes and keep them aside, in a polythene bags. When the cart pushers come, they pick them and take them to a place called Ora in Wilmer Road to sell to a company. The company sells it out to a bigger company that recycles this into nylon,” she said.

A petty trader in Kirikiri, Bola Olokunola, said, “I usually keep my waste in my house for two to three days. When it becomes much, I will give it to cart pushers and pay them N70. Sometimes, the bottles and cans are normally selected from dustbins by the cart pushers and taken somewhere else unknown to me. I prefer giving it to cart pushers to dispose because you cannot rely on Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA); they don’t come to this area again,” she alleged.

Jessica Jackson, a foodstuff seller in Apapa, said that sometime she burn the nylon on the road at night. “I also pay cart pushers to dispose it. They separate the bottles from the general wastes.”

A corn seller, Ijeoma Ezechi said, “I normally dispose waste at the canal boundary, but I have stopped doing that because if you were caught you will be asked to pay some fine. So what I normally do now is to give it to cart pushers and pay them.

‘Polymer Products Block Drainages During Rainy Season’
Uzoma Nzeagwu – Awka

A university don, Mr Darlington Okeke said that nylon bags, plastic bottles with other waste materials are polymer products that pose threats to human life and ecology.

Okeke noted, “They are pollutants because of the ingredients and chemicals used in producing them, or chemicals they absorb from the environment of their chemical composition. During rainy season, these debris block drainages and in this process causes erosion. As water finds its way on to the road, it washes away part of the road creating gullies and potholes, which dot our roads, thereby damaging the highway.

“The collection of these wastes in our environment poses dangers to human health and can cause ill health like cholera, diarrhea, cough, catarrh and fever among others.

“For instance, if a plastic bag used to store harmful chemical is used by an unsuspecting person to store food items like rice or garri which in turn is contaminated, the user could likely face health hazards. Plastic containers are hazardous wastes, which release chemicals and are unsafe, also they as dangerous when used to package other consumables like water, soft drinks, drugs etc. They can cause cancer to man.

“However, waste products generate millions of tons of waste which dot dump sites all over our villages, towns and cities as they end up their journey. Some of these scraps find their way into homes for uses in making fire, for cooking. Even some plastics end up in recycling plants to be used in further production of goods like shoes, wears, head gears, women hair attachments etc. In whatever way used, they are hazardous wastes which have serious consequences.”

In his view, Mr Solomon Mokwugwo, who lives in Awka, the Anambra state capital, said nylon bags and plastic bottles are threat to human life. “The waste materials may as well cause epidemic because as they are carried along water drainages or on the road, they heap somewhere after the flood and emit offensive odor. The spot become breeding place for mosquitoes which cause malaria and other air borne diseases like cough, fever etc. Reptiles, rodents and harmful insects can breed in the refuse heap and also bite some one to cause sickness.

“In places like Nnewi, the waste carried along flood cause erosion which in turn lead to collapse of roads. While dragging debris along the road during rainy day, drivers trying to avoid the materials may veer off the road and cause accident. Particularly motorcyclists and vehicles lose control and cause serious injury or death in some cases to road users.

“These plastic wastes are eye sore to our environment as they litter the surroundings as can be seen in Awka, Onitsha, Ihiala etc. and must not be tolerated by the citizenry. They are source of pollution to our environment, and all hands must be on deck to control the littering of these materials in our respective areas.

“Government should ensure urgent evacuation of refuse from water channels to avoid contamination of our homes and environment. They should work in collaboration with the relevant agencies to create awareness on public health. Government should warn the public on the risks involved from dumping refuse indiscriminately into gutters, roads and rivers,” he said.

In his contribution, a civil servant, who simple gave his name as Nchedo, said it’s not advisable to drop wastes, especially plastic materials at odd places, saying it causes pollution to the environment. He advised people to carry their waste to appropriate dump or incinerators where they are burnt. People should be mindful in using plastics for packaging food items like pure water, take away from eateries, bakery foods and so on because of their hazardous effects. From scientific reports, the chemicals used in producing these materials are harmful to human beings.

Also commenting, Mrs Juliana Nwaiyama who deals on plastic wares said he is not aware of the dangers posed by the wastes from these materials to our environment. She however advised people to ensure they dispose their waste at dumpsites.

Ondo Residents Accuse Waste Management Agency Of Poor Services, Discrimination
From Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure

RAINY season in the mangrove swamps, rainforest and mountainous-derived savannah of Ondo State is often times accompanied with fears across the 18 council areas of the state, especially in the south senatorial district, among the four coastal council areas, where there is acute lack of systemic means of waste management and disposal for the inhabitants.

In the two other senatorial districts (north and central), the situation is far better, especially in Akure, the capital, though there are still visible inadequacies and poor services in the operation of Ondo State Waste Management Agency (OSWMA).

Aside health dangers of nylon bags, cellophanes, plastic bottles and others, they also constitute ecological hazards, because they are classified as non biodegradables, littered around the streets and building up to block drainages, where there are few infrastructure.

Mr Aralu Emmanuel, a youth leader in Ayetoro community, an island in Ilaje council area, which more than 3 kilometres of its land mass has been submerged, raised the alarm over the dangers of the ecological disaster that are often caused by huge wastes in the sea.

Aralu noted that there is always a tidal rise during the rainy season due to more waste dumps from the rivulets and drainages into the seaways, resulting into recurrent sea surges that threaten the existence of the people living in the riverine areas of the state.

“The negative impacts are far reaching because of the dangers that live with us here on our few land, marine environments and ecosystem. We are mainly fishers here, it is drastically affecting our economy and making our people poorer by the day,” he said.

The National Coordinator of Ondo State Women Must Count, Mrs Olamide Falana, lamented the recent hike in the charges leveled on the people by the agency, even when the services rendered by the OSWMA staff are inconsistent, non-regular and customer-centred.

Falana, who stays in one of the middle class areas, said that there is high level of discrimination by the agency, whose workers allowed the customers to perform half of their duties, compared to the special treatment they offer customers in high profile estates.

“Most times they would wait for us to pack the wastes into their truck; and when they don’t see us at homes, they often zoom off, leaving the refuse where we left them. Yet, they would charge for the service not rendered.

“And to make the matter worse, they still go ahead to charge us the same amount with those privileged people living in GRAs and upscale areas, despite the fact that the rich people have more wastes than we do, considering their consumables,” she said.

Residents of areas like Oloko, Temidire, Orita-Obele, Alasaare and its environs lamented that OSWMA operators does not ply their areas, due to the bad road networks, especially during the rainy season.

They disclosed that that most houses are exposed and vulnerable to the dangers of huge dunghills littering the environment; worse enough, the constant degradation of the ozone layer and air pollution as a result of the smoke emitted from burning the refuse.

The Guardian discovered that attempts to keep some of those plastic wastes off the streets for further usage through recycling process, also has its own adverse health implications.

The National Coordinator of We Are Making a Difference (MAD) group, Ms. Tony Joy, recently led some NGOs through an initiative tagged: Hold it till You can Bin It, to sensitise people on waste management.

Tony said they were tired of seeing dirt around the streets and had a vision that in 2020 Nigeria will be one of the cleanest nations in the world. Another Akure resident, Mr. Oladeji Ebisemiju, stressed that he was aware of the underlying health implications and dangers in the recycling of plastic for human usage. He disclosed that they contain carcinogenic substances that make people prone to cancer and estrogenic properties, which impair the reproductive organs.

“These harmful substances are easily elicited from the containers when hot food items, water or the likes are put inside them, and consumed to our own detriment. More consumables and edibles are now packaged in plastic sheets or sachets, which most times have been contaminated due to previous use,” he said.

Ebisemiju, who is the state secretary of Young Democratic Party (YDP), attributed the failure of the waste management systems to the faulty type of federalism practised in the country, which he said crippled the local government system.

According to him, it is only the local government authority that can effectively manage such duty without leaving any stone unturned due to its closeness to the people and grassroots.

He urged the state government to jettison the idea of caretakers and conduct elections for substantive executive chairmen that would be responsible to all the yearnings of the people.

Nevertheless, the Ondo State governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) reiterated his administration’s commitment to make the environmental better for sustainable development, stressing that there is need to protect the environment for the collective wellbeing of mankind.

The governor, who used the occasion of the last World Environment Day celebration in Akure to affirm his commitment to the crusade, decried indiscriminate waste disposal, littering and open defecation by people, adding that such practice is tantamount to inviting diseases like cholera and diarrhoea.

He recalled that the ancestors, in the stone and crude age, started as nomads who moved from one place to another in search of fruits for their survival without destroying the natural environment. He iterated that his administration would put adequate infrastructure in place and even gets the state’s forest back.

Experts Call For Ban Of Plastic Bottles
By Bertram Nwannekanma

To checkmate the hazardous effect of used plastic bottles on the health of human, environment and economy, environmental experts have called for ban on consumer products made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PEP).

Principal Consultant to based Environ Focus Incorporated, a Canada-based organisation Mrs. Obie Agusiegbe, said the call became necessary following the fact that plastics bottles make up a high proportion of our waste in Nigeria.

Mrs Agusiegbe, who recently anchored the Youth and 3Rs programmes, an innovative stewardship initiative of Sustainable Waste Recycling Community of Nigeria (SWRC Nigeria), aimed at improving Nigeria’s recycling rate among the Nigerian Youths, said there are seven known types of plastics based on their composition.

According to her, most plastic bottles generating the waste in Nigeria are used to make consumer products and they are made from Polyethylene Terephthalate. She stressed the need for a move towards reusable bottles that are bisphenol A (BPA) free for consumable products.

“PET plastics and bottles, she said are intended for sole use applications because repeated use increases the risk of leaching and bacterial growth. “These plastics are difficult to decontaminate, and proper cleaning does require use of harmful chemicals and may leach carcinogens,” she
emphasised.

Also in his remark, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Hunpe said the ban of the use of plastic bottles would save the nation problem of flood and its attendant health implications on the citizens.

According to him, the economic impact of used bottles on the environment far outweighs its gains.

The Situation Is Embarrassing In Cross River
From Anietie Akpan, Calabar

The refuse situation in Calabar has been so embarrassing that most streets and gutters have been taken over by refuse mostly polythene bags and other plastics that find it difficult to decompose.

Speaking to The Guardian, a resident of Howell street, Calabar, Umo Antigha Etim said, “The odour oozing out from the refuse in our area which is a popular five streets junction is affecting us so badly. It is strong and repulsive and it is affecting businesses here.

“Most of these refuse heaps are polythene bags, plastic bottles, spoilt food and others. The waste management people come here every two weeks instead of every day because this Howell is controlling about seven streets. The streets are Howell by Atuambum, Afokang by Howell, Abasi Edem by Howell, Fula by Howell, Umon by Howell Ekpoabasi lane by Howell and Howell lane by Howell. All these streets meet here at this junction in Howell and we have just this one refuse bin and that is why they suppose to be coming here on daily basis.  In my opinion, I will advise government to stop the use of these polythene bags and plastic bottles and at the same time ensure regular refuse evacuation”.

Worried by the growing refuse in Calabar, Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, has warned residents of the state, particularly to ensure that the state’s cleanliness and greenery is sustained or be ready to face prosecution.

He said: “Cross River is the cleanest state in Nigeria and unarguably the tourism destination of the country, it is imperative that the cleanliness needs to be sustained. In doing this, my administration has made it very clear that we will have zero tolerance for an untidy environment as we lay emphasis on cleanliness, knowing full well that cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Ayade noted that the new outfit, Green Sheriff, “must serve as an environmental neighborhood watch by ensuring that every resident of the state and Calabar in particular keeps his or her environment very clean.”

He added that those who own property in Calabar must keep their environment tidy and “if you are seen littering or dropping sweet wrapper, you will be picked up by Green Sheriff. So ensure that there is no littering as the greenery of Calabar must be sustained.”

The governor, who disclosed that Calabar has been divided into 39 segments with contractors attached to sustain the environmental policy, posited that “we must maintain that dignity, image, class and elegance that Calabar is indeed the cleanest city.”




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