Joshua Chibuzo Andrew, Owerri
In recent time, indiscriminate dump of garbage has polluted Imo environments especially Owerri metropolis and suburbs thereby retarding commercial activities, causing social discomfort, traffic gridlock and health hazard to residents.
The urban, suburbs and the rural communities had witnessed environmental neatness during the regime of Ikedi Ohakim with the introduction of Green and Clean Initiative Policy which fairly maintained and effectively monitored monthly sanitation exercise in all parts of the state.
Mobile Court was established to try and punish offenders so that the policy became successful and appreciated by all environmentally friendly citizens. This feat earned Imo best neat state in South East and endeared Ikedi Ohakim as most environmentally friendly Governor across the region.
During the Rescue Mission administration spearheaded by Rochas Okorocha, Imo State witnessed the worst environmental pollution with garbage randomly heaped, littering, stinking and scaring residents and pedestrians, blocking waterways (drainages, gutters), breeding flooding, decongesting the streets and major roads.
In the light of this environmental degradation, the former Governor of Imo State (Okorocha) did not put in solid effort to beautify the state environmentally until Emeka Ihedioha came and cleaned up the environmental mess incurred by Okorocha.
Although Ihedioha was unceremoniously removed from seat by the Supreme Court who installed Hope Uzodimma as Governor who is working to leave a lasting positive impression.
Today, under the shared prosperity administration championed by Governor Hope Uzodimma, Imo has been adversely challenged with indiscriminate garbage dump which destabilizes the health of the people, leaving them to wonder what the government and the Waste Management Agency have been doing to evacuate those refuse disposals at some major areas of the state to strengthen sound health, sanitation and friendly environment.
Our correspondent gathered that garbage litters some major areas in Imo State with the present government putting little effort in motion to clear the refuse. The rate at which residents randomly dump refuge is alarming. The waste bins should be adequately provided to avoid littering garbage in the streets and on the major roads for easy movement and comfort.
The major areas where garbage is always heaped in Imo State are: Douglas (by Rotobi, School Road, Njemanze, Ama- JK), Mbaise Road, MCC/Uratta, Irete, Egbu (around Shoprite Mall, Jehovah Jare), Amakohia, Akwakuma, Ubomiri, Nwaoriubi, Onitsha Road, Avu, Obinze, New Owerri among other areas. This poses a health challenge to residents who have always called on government to evacuate the debris and provide Waste Management Equipments while deploying taskforce to complement Waste Management Agency to monitor offenders or recycle the waste materials to productive gains.
To move forward, Governor Hope Uzodimma should intensify effort to regularly evacuate refuse by providing more clean waste bins so that residents stop random dump of garbage, provide evacuation vehicles and employ more hands (drivers and scavengers) and pay them commensurately to encourage them to thoroughly evacuate waste materials with a view to enhancing cleanliness, beauty and good health in Imo State.
A resident under anonymity had recommended that the Governor “works hard to better the lives of Imo people. I am yet to see any massive impact on the citizens by Uzodimma. Time is going. Forget giving excuses to attract sympathy. Develop Imo. Maintain cleanliness by evacuating garbage across the state, build infrastructure to encourage productivity”.
Apart from flooding, abandoned heap of refuse has become a nightmare in Imo State particularly in Owerri metropolis as offensive odor oozes from the dump. This anomaly has generated a lot of concern from residents who lamented health hazard, slowness in traffic, commerce and unhygienic environment.
The residents who also did not want their names in print, said “Imo residents are at health risk over the indiscriminate garbage especially those who live around Shoprite Mall (Egbu Road), Egbu Market, MCC/Uratta Road, World Bank Road, Mbaise Road, Ekeonunwa Market and Aba Road, Akwakuma, Amakaohia, Nworiebu, Ubomiri Roads”, regretting that refuse dumps at the heart of Owerri, suburbs have defaced the beauty of Owerri and subjected many residents to health risk.
The residents also blamed some people for randomly dropping garbage instead of dumping garbage into some available waste bins, suggesting that offenders pay five thousand naira fine which they said would deter others from such unhygienic behavior.
“Just give a stiff warning that any person who drops trash on the ground will be forced to pay #5000. Believe me, nobody will try dumping refuse randomly again. Some citizens do not need soft hand. Government should encourage the Waste Management Agency in the state to gather garbage into the empty bins and throw it immediately to avoid health risk and decongestion of the road. It is bad that some people have metamorphosed into pigs and we keep shifting blames. Owerri is a city where people will pour dirt inside drainages/gutters whenever there is rain or sun and still go freely”.
Government should do more to ensure that garbage is quickly evacuated from the streets and major roads and dumped at a place where it will be burnt to avoid health hazard, traffic gridlock and environmental pollution, since the state is not yet mature to recycle waste materials to create wealth for even development.