Residents of Owerri, the Imo State capital, are in for imminent outbreak of epidemic following the littering of streets and markets in the capital city with heaps of refuse.
According to checks by our reporter in Owerri, major streets and markets in the city are now replete with repulsive and overpowering stench of rotten heaps of over-stayed refuse.
Our checks reveal that at Umezuruike Street by Royce Road, Ama Hausa, Egbeada Road, Item/Mbari streets in Ikenegbu, Orji and Egbu Roads, heaps of refuse have since taken over the roads and streets.
The situation is worse in such markets as Relief, World Bank, New Market, Eke Onunwa and School Road Markets where some traders display their wares including edible items while those allergic to such odours, abandoned their stalls waiting till when the officials of Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO) come to evacuate the dirt.
It is even worst any day the citizens decide to embark on general sanitation by scooping out dirts. The roads would be impassable for days.
As a result of this, residents and traders are no longer finding it comfortable doing business around the affected streets and markets.
For instance, shop and stall owners on Umezuruike Street and Old Okigwe Road have packed up since one week.
Speaking to 247ureports.com a resident at Egbu, Mr Iyke Ozurumba expressed deep concern that Owerri which was once reputed for being the cleanest city in Nigeria, has turned to stinking place.
Mr Ozurumba wondered why the Rochas Okorocha-led government should allow such ugly sites that were capable of causing epidemic in the state to exist unattended to.
‘My brother, the entire situation is an eyesore. From my residence at Egbu to Ama Hausa and inside all the markets in the metropolis, the site you behold is a very dirty capital city. It’s very unfortunate.
‘I must tell you that since this government came into being, Owerri has not remained the same again in terms of cleanliness’, he lamented.
Another resident, Chika Nwaiche who resides on Royce Road, could not understand why the state government should pay lip service to environmental sanitation, saying for about two years now, the state capital had consistently remained ‘putrid with heaps of dirt’.
‘You can imagine our predicaments here. When my friends visit me from Aba, which is known for dirt, they complain that Owerri is becoming like Aba in terms of dirt and bad odours’, Nwaiche lamented.
They blamed the state government for leaving the evacuation of refuse in the hands of contractors without adequately monitoring their operations.
Information reaching 247ureports.com has it that the immediate past administration of Chief Ikedi Ohakim was spending about N125million monthly to keep the capital city clean by organising monthly sanitation exercise.
But the Okorocha-led administration stopped the exercise and reduced it to N70million and has not been able to achieve much in terms of keeping the city clean.
According to our findings, most of the individuals who got the contract of refuse disposal in the state, lacked the capacity and experience to do the job, and as a result, had to sublet the jobs to foreign firm who was said to have deviced a means of evacuating the refuse at their convenience. Thus, instead of daily evacuation of the refuse, the contractors now allow the dumpsites to heavily overflow to the roads and the streets two weeks before coming to evacuate them.
However, ENTRACO officials who pleaded anonymity accused Governor Okorocha of being the architect of the whole problem.
According to them, because of the amount involved, the governor decided to sideline ENTRACO officials and awarded the job to his relatives who, as it were, had messed up the job.
‘It is very painful to recall that during Ohakim’s era, we were fully involved in supervising the daily evacuation of refuse in Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe and we never failed. But these days, job seekers bypass ENTRACO to secure the contracts only to hire tippers and waste disposal equipment at day pay in order to maximise profits’, said of the Entraco officials.
They appealed to journalists to inform the governor to address the situation before a major outbreak of epidemic which is looming within the state capital.
All efforts made to reach the general manager of ENTRACO, Mr. Henry Ike proved abortive as calls and sms put through to his gsm line were not responded to.