There are growing concerns of an imminent outbreak of epidemic in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State currently under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. Concerned environmental human rights groups are pushing for a stich in time saves nine.
One of the leading environmental rights groups, Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), is already warning that poor waste management by the State Environmental Protection Agency(ASEPA) is posing risk to the health of the commercial city.
FENRAD’s Executive Director, Nnanna Nwafor, is calling for a state of emergency on waste management in the city, pointing out that the health risk posed to residents by the situation can no longer be ignored as refuse now adorn major roads in Aba.
He explained that the call for a state of emergency came after his group had conducted a wide assessment of the environment situation in Aba and Umuahia cities of the state and discovered that the refuse is gradually taking over the cities.
“We conducted a wide assessment of the environment situation in Aba and Umuahia cities in the state and discovered that the health of the residents is at risk, especially in Aba. Major roads in Aba now host refuse and have become dumping sites. Port Harcourt Road leads the pack in this ugly situation with places like the famous Crystal Park, National High School Aba nearly inaccessible, even on foot.
“Ngwa Road by Mosque; Aba-Owerri Road along Union Bank Junction ,Azikiwe Road by Asa, Obohia and many other strategic Roads – to name just a few – in the city are not left out of heaps of debris in a state of decay.
‘’Marketplaces, like Azikiwe/Asa where Shopping Centre is located, are usually untidy during and after market hours with dirt as gutters are filled to the brim with plastics and other non biodegradable waste. Same goes for Ariaria, Ahia Ohuru and Cemetery markets. While the market unions are partly to blame.
“We regrets that receptacles and collectors are filled with domestic waste for days without any ASEPA worker on hand to convey the same to where they could be treated or burnt. When they manage to come, some of their waste trucks still litter the streets from collection to tipping points.
‘’Aba is now recording the worst environmental regime if something is not done to salvage this. On the industrial waste sector, many factories today channel bad and wastewater or industrial effluent into rivers destroying aquatic lives and denying locals access to water whose actions are not being challenged. It is unfortunate that ASEPA is not doing enough, the good old days of a cleaner Aba during the era of Governor Ikpeazu as ASEPA Deputy General Manager, is gone”, he said.
The environmental rights group is also urging the Ministry of Environment to urgently remedy the situation to avert impending epidemic, stressing that infectious diseases thrive in unhygienic environments especially in this era of pandemic.
FENRAD, however, tasked the residents of Aba to change their negative attitude to waste disposal while ASEPA, should adopt a proactive approach to waste management.
“FENRAD calls on Aba residents to follow the path of environmental discipline. They must change their attitude to waste disposal. Abia is becoming an object of ridicule among other cities and states. At this rate, investors, holidaymakers, tourists and other visitors to the state may have a rethink and shelve visiting, not to talk of investing in any enterprise. ASEPA in Aba must sit up or risk an epidemic in the city.”