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Encomiums, As ACTDA Moves to End Drainage Blocking in Awka, Restores Fresh Air to Residents



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By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The residents and traders in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, have begun to receive fresh breath, as the state government agency, the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) began a massive and intensive desilting of the blocked drainages in the city.

The week-long exercise, which is a continuation of the ACTDA’s Operation Clean and Green campaign, kicked off on Wednesday along the 7.5 kilometer-Zik’s Avenue, where many parts of the drainage channels that stretch from Amaenyi axis down to Ukwu Ọjị axis of the ever-busy road were trash-filled to the brim, prior to the launching of the exercise, with its consequent foul smell that made the area inhabitable for the residents.

The residents, however, received some comforts and expressed their heartfelt joy, following the speedy puffing out of some quantum of congealed trashes that hitherto blocked the channels, resulting to a free and speedy flow of some fetid waters that had long been trapped by the garbages in the channels.

A heavy-duty machine was also sighted at the scene, uncovering and desilting the drainage channels, while tippers and some labourers were also on ground evacuating the trashes, under the directive and close supervision of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the ACTDA, Hon. Ossy Onuko, alongside other staff of the agency.

Speaking in interview with newsmen over the exercise, the ACTDA Boss, Hon. Onuko explained that the exercise was born out of the need to maintain a clean and healthy environment in the capital city and its environs.

He noted that similar exercise was also carried out by the Agency last year ahead of the year’s rainy season, regretting that the same drainages have again been stocked and blocked with garbages, including trashed bags of refuse.

According to him, investigation has revealed that the blockage was caused by some recalcitrant residents who use the drainage channels as refuse dump site, especially during rain, instead of using government-designated refuse collection points in their environs. This, he said, the people still do despite the agency’s sponsored advocacy, enlightenment campaigns and other government sensitization programs against indiscriminate dumping of refuse in in the capital city and the state at large.

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“There has even been a provision of enough receptacles along the road, such that within every three-meter walk in the area, you must see a receptacle where to dispose your waste. So, I don’t see any reason why, at this age and the stage, people would still go to the drainage channels to dump their refuse,” he said.

The ACTDA Boss also said their investigations had revealed that people’s inability to move the slabs on top of the drainage channels to clean it could also be part of the reasons why they do not regularly clean up the channels.

These, he said, prompted the adjustment in their approach to the situation this time, to ensure a sustained cleanliness of the channels and the environment at large.

“The indiscriminate dumping of refuse has been an age-long practice of the people. But we cannot continue like that. If we want the development that we are clamouring for, we must also imbibe the culture that sustains that development,” Onuko said.

While hinting that many of the garbages evacuated from the drainage channels during the exercise are even undecomposable, the ACTDA helmsman also highlighted the various negative effects of blocked drainages, both on the health of the people and the general environmental well-being of the area. He noted that such things sabotage the developmental efforts and strides of the Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led Administration towards transforming the capital city and making Anambra a livable and prosperous homeland; warning that such would no longer be condoned.

When asked his agency’s plans to to ensure the sustainability of the neatness of the drainages being desilted, Hon. Onuko noted that the Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra, OCHA Brigade, had been charged with the mandate to ensure the implementation of relevant laws and monitoring of activities related to the cleanliness and environmental well-being of the State, adding that the Brigade has also been also commissioned to take charge of such enforcement in the area and every part of the capital city.

He also warned that whosoever would be caught messing up the environment would be decisively dealt, in line with the relevant laws of the state.

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The ACTDA Boss also revealed that the removed slabs would no longer be replaced on the drainages, except at strategic locations where they would serve as walkways for crossing of gutter, since the slabs have been to be contributory to the obstruction of free flow of water in the drainage channels.

“We will not relent. And we must put every necessary measure in place to achieve Mr. Governor’s mandate to ACTDA and his vision for the capital territory and Anambra state at large,” Onuko said.

Contributing, an Awka indigene and public information announcer, Mr. Aiza Nwosu, attested that the residents had been repeatedly sensitized and warned against indiscriminate dumping of refuse, even as he also recounted how flood sometime submerged the soup pot of one of the villagers, simply identified as Chief Nwagbataoso, because the drainage was blocked, making the flood to find alternative routes, thereby ending up in the victim’s house and soup pot around the no. 230 Zik’s Avenue.

While reiterating the warning against indiscriminate refuse dumping, the entertainer also expressed his optimism that ACTDA’s new approach to the situation and strict enforcement of compliance would help bring a perpetual solution to the challenge.

In their separate remarks, some of traders in the area, including Chief Gabriel Tabụgboo (a vehicle parts dealer) and Mrs. Helen Eze (a food vendor), shared their views about the drainage blockage and how it has negatively affected them, even to the point of the flood diverting into their shops where it wrecked havoc.

They commended the ACTDA MD and the Anambra State Government for embarking on the intensive desilting exercise, which they confirmed, have also made them breath fresh air once again while siting in their shops.

While joining their voices to call on their fellow residents to see environmental sustainability and maintenance as part of their civic responsibilities; the duo further appealed on the government to find a permanent solution to the situation, to ensure that such issues do not occur again subsequently.

More photos from the flag-off of the exercise:

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