The Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom, once hailed as the cleanest in the country, is now suffering from a waste management crisis. Streets, major markets, and residential areas alike are being overtaken by refuse dumps, hindering both pedestrian and vehicular movement.
Highly trafficked areas such as Akpan Andem market, Abak road, Atiku Abubakar Avenue, and Effiong Ukpong street are among those affected. The situation has raised health concerns as traders, particularly those selling food and fruits, are forced to operate in close proximity to the waste.
Despite generating over 15,000 tonnes of municipal and household waste daily, Akwa Ibom’s waste management systems are struggling to keep up. Barr Clifford Thomas, the Executive Director of FOCEHRADA, criticised the government’s waste management policies, and pointed out that the state’s reputation as the cleanest is now at risk.
Furthermore, Thomas noted that the Uyo Village Road dumpsite has contaminated a major water source for 24 local government areas, leading to increased cases of malaria and typhoid fever.
In response to the situation, Prince Akpan Ikim, Chairman of AKSEPWMA, said that the agency is working to address the waste crisis. He attributed the problem to a population increase and the high cost of hiring trucks for waste disposal. He also accused local councils of not using collected sanitation fees appropriately to maintain cleanliness in the markets.
Ikim said, “If you are collecting a specified amount of money from market women for sanitation fees, you should use that money to evacuate waste.”
IMAGE: State of the Planet