This reporter visited Akungba Akoko, which is the host community of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State to unveil how the practices of improper waste disposal affect the businesses of traders and some residents in the community.
On September 13th, 2022, this reporter visited the community market square where she saw an old woman, Sukurat Mohammed, 73, displaying her goods while simultaneously ogling at the flies coming out from the refuse of rotten food, crop items, bottles, plastics, and domestic wastes near her shop.
“I have been sick due to this disgusting smell some time ago, but I had no choice but to endure and avoid hunger”.
The septuagenarian added that people have been dumping waste on the market ground for years and nothing was done to correct the folly.
“I sell foodstuffs like rice, beans and garri which I cover with nylon. Even though I covered all my goods, customers normally complained they don’t want to contract diseases and they would leave as a result of that”.
Ibaka market. PC: Fatimah Idera.
In 2020, the World Bank estimated that waste generation has risen globally to 2.24 billion tonnes of solid waste, amounting to a footprint of 0.79 kilograms per person daily. With rapid population growth and urbanization, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 73% from 2020 levels to 3.88 billion tonnes in 2050.
It was also discovered that emissions produced from trash generated from mankind’s industrial activities, cause long-term negative effects which can lead to diseases such as asthma, birth defects, cancer, cardiovascular disease, childhood cancer, Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, infectious diseases, low birth weight, and preterm delivery.
We do not have a waste bin – Traders
Kayode Oladele who owns a pharmacist shop very close to the refuse, also laments that he still finds it hard to cope with the horrendous smell despite staying there for more than five years.
“My customers are coping with the stinks from the refuse because most of the time when it rains, flood takes some of the waste from Ibaka to Iwaro”.
However, Oladele bemoaned the nonchalant attitudes of the Alale of Akungba Kingdom, and the local government Chairman, saying they ought to have provided a proper way of disposing of waste like providing a waste bin for the traders rather than using the middle of the market as refuse ground.
Oluwaseun Favor, 25, also said she always feels uncomfortable whenever she’s coming to the market.
“I only forced myself to come and anytime I came here to sell fresh pepper, I’m always on my nose mask to avoid the odor. Dumping refuse in unlawful places in the community is not a good idea but it’s one of the things that should be expected from the local, and uneducated people living in the community.
“Since I have had my shop here, I have not seen them pack the dirt. When rain falls, the road would be blocked with this dirt. Even on market days, sellers would display their wares close to the dirt. If they don’t do it I will leave this place because whenever it rains, this place does stink and it’s not good for my health”.
Margeret Omotola opined that clearing the market is what the market authorities can do on their own because the traders do pay for their market dues.
“We will be glad if they can help find solutions to it because it’s really affecting us. Customers leave without buying anything since they can’t withstand the smell. Some stay and wait to buy what they intend to buy but some also leave when they can no longer bear it.
“It is very disastrous and it is already getting out of hand, both in the market areas, inside the school premises, and almost everywhere in the community, which is not supposed to be”.
An Environmentalist and Founder of Blogging Nigeria Club, Mayokun Iyaomolere, said illegal waste disposal in local communities is a result of a lack of adequate waste management facilities and efficiency.
Iyamolere said this prompts people to dispose of their dumps anywhere because they are not aware of its consequences like causing diseases.
Speaking on the solution, while Iyamolere said the people can use recycling methods to take waste plastic to recycling firms, he added that the government should also provide adequate infrastructure for waste management to clean up the environment.
“People should change their behavior by reducing their consumption of foods to reduce waste as well as learn not to dispose of waste anywhere,” he added.
Paul Ayomide Eweola, who is the Young Ocean Leader at Aquaworld stated that waste disposal is common in some local communities where the government did not establish any waste management system.
“What options do you want the residents to explore? My major experiences and fieldwork with some coastal communities showed the high rate of disposal of waste to water bodies which contribute to ocean and plastic pollution, enhances breeding ground for disease-causing”.
Paul Ayomide also implored the government to implement a proper waste management system in communities.
AAUA Students Union Reaction
The Student Union Welfare Director of Adekunle Ajasin University, Odole Mojisola Faith confirmed that illegal waste disposal has been a prevailing issue in Akungba since she resumed as a student of the school.
“After the rain, you will see the main roads littered with waste products and this act has affected both the students and all on transit in the community. I believe the institution and community could do better than they’ve been doing by sensitizing the people on the need to dispose of their dirt in appropriate places.
“If the government/leadership of the community could provide a waste bin and places them in a strategic location such as Ibaka market, Okusa market, permanent site, uncle Tunde street, Medoline street, etc, then the extent at which people dispose their first by the roadside will reduce”.
She emphasized that the environmental sanitation day must be observed by all for proper cleaning of the environment and that the waste management board must be ready to move waste products.
“Not from the road alone but even from houses because some villas have resulted in the burning of their refuse which is even toxic to their health”, she added.
Tawakalitu Olarinola, a graduate who sells groundnut at the market said the smell from the dumping site is too hazardous to her health, adding that the government promised to do the bridge but up till now, there is no single touch of construction.
“I try coping with customers since I don’t sell foodstuffs, but whenever the sun gets too hot, I will have to stand up and go to another place because the smell will be very hectic.
“If the government repaired the bridge, and enacted a rule on illegal dumping of waste, people would abide and desist from the act because everyone in this community dumps their waste there.”