Illegal dumping of waste has been identified as one of the main causes of pollution that has become a serious threat to the government, and people of various communities in Nigeria.
A report by Conserve Energy Future disclosed that illegal dumping of refuse is considered unlawful on account of the harm it causes to the environment, and it is on the rise, which is increasingly becoming a problem because it hinders the objectives of keeping the environment clean.
Also, a study by the Global Journal of Research and Review revealed that when waste is improperly disposed of, the effect exposes humans to environmental degradation such as flooding, drainage obstruction, widespread infectious diseases, and waterway blockage, which leads to an infestation of flies, ticks, and the breeding of mosquitoes that cause malaria.
Apart from this, illegal waste disposal can also have adverse health effects on humans as, over the years, it has been responsible for causing several diseases and, in some cases, even death. Diseases like cholera, Dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid fever, and leptospirosis are well known to be spread through contaminated water and can cause serious health epidemics in the public.
Data revealed that Africa contributes a total of 125 million metric tons per annum, with 81 million metric tons (65%) being from sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is a growing concern about the ways these wastes are being managed in municipal areas. For instance, Nigeria gets no fewer than 32 million tons of solid waste yearly but only 20-30% is collected with those collected being burnt down openly or dumped indiscriminately.
Indiscriminate waste disposal in Ogunpa market
Ogunpa Market is among the most popular and busiest markets located in the North division of Ibadan, Oyo State. It is well known for selling both local and commercial commodities at wholesale and retail prices.
Findings reveal that the traders in that market are the perpetrators of improper waste disposal and open defecation in the not-well-structured drainage system that passes across the market from the community.
Reactions from residents and shop owners
Some of the residents and vocational persons who own shops close to the drainage lamented the act is majorly done by the traders while others said they are used to the smell from the defecation done.
Mrs. Omobowale Esther, one of the residents, said the waste in the drainages is being dumped by no other person other than the traders.
“They would gather their waste in a big polythene bag and dump it at the back of the house where the drainage passed, and they also defecate when they are pressed. We have complained to the traders not to come and dispose of their refuse in this place, but they wouldn’t listen.
“The market generates most of these wastes, so it’s their responsibility to find a solution. Whenever they dump their refuse here, when the rain falls, it will take it back to the market side, and as of now, the heap has blocked the drainage. “
People were spotted defecating at the time of this interview.
When these people were spotted, Esther pointed and shouted at them but none of them bothered to make a move, nor attempted to leave. They confidently perpetrate the act with composure.
One of the traders, Grace Ajibola, said the smell that comes from the waste is sometimes unbearable, but they are now used to it.
“I sell ladies’ clothes and I don’t have much waste to dispose of like others, so I pack my little waste together and take it home to dispose of properly.
“We have complained to the chairman, but there’s only little he can do from his end as officials from the local level are not ready to help. There are days that we will perceive a strong bad odor, but nobody seems to care about it anymore, everybody goes about their businesses without hindrance.”
Another trader who simply wants to be identified as Mr. Gbedegesin said the situation of the waste disposal in the drainage has been like that for years, he also mentioned that this is not the first time The Press will be visiting the scene to report it but nothing visible has been done to curb the terrible act.
“We have been the ones packing the waste ourselves once it gets piled up in the drainage, we hire waste collectors, and we spend nothing less than a million every year, but this year, we haven’t touched it.
“All this dirt started from a piece of nylon, and gradually it became a heap, and because it has become too much, it has now blocked the drainage”, she added.
This reporter traced the drainage to know the source, and it was discovered that the main source is very far from the market and it passes through many houses in the neighborhoods.
Market Chairperson’s Reaction.
While reacting, the chairperson of the market development association, who simply wants to be identified as Mr. Lawal, claimed that the acts are not done by the traders but rather the waste that is being dumped by the residents in the community and being brought forward by the flood to the market area.
After further investigation, it was discovered that the waste disposal in the drainage and defecation is majorly done by the traders in the market, leaving the residents to deal with the environmental hazards.
It was also observed that the waste in the drainage consists of rotten food, bottles, plastics, domestic wastes, disposal packs, nylon, and assorted refuse which has been like that for months without the traders devising any adequate means of the waste collection either by the private sector or government. Instead, cart pushers are the one who patronizes the drainage as they come very early in the morning to pick up plastic bottles and other waste.
Mr. Lawal further explained that it was during the reign of the former governor of the state, Ajimobi, that the waste collectors usually come twice a week to remove the waste.
“Ever since the governor left office, they stopped coming and only came as they pleased now. We have written letters to the government to help us but we have never received a positive response from them. Officials from the local government also came sometime last year and told us that the government at the federal level is not ready to assist with money and that we should sort it ourselves.
“They told us to contribute money, and we did. I task every shop in the market to pay the amount of a thousand. After the contribution, we transferred the money to them, but up until this date, we never heard from them again.
“As last year when we didn’t hear from them again, the whole market contributed money again as we do every year to hire a waste collector to pack the waste because it was already much and we couldn’t stand the odour. We spent close to a million to get the waste disposed of. We just haven’t done anything this year because nobody is willing to pay anymore” he added.
He said, “We have a very bad cultural way of disposing of our waste. Commonly, people get to dispose of their waste anywhere they find themselves, either in public transport, on the road, etc, and when rain falls, all the waste goes into our drainage systems.
“It also contributes to health problems. From flooding, for example, there can be cholera outbreaks and diarrhea because of water pollution. When there is waste in a specific area, as we have in many localities, and the place is not well taken care of, it becomes a challenge and it all ends up affecting our health.
“Ways to correct this are to have good management infrastructure where we have bins, we have agencies that collect them, but it may not seem efficient to cater for the needs of the population.”
The environmentalist also stated that the way forward is that individuals have to be more cautious regarding how they manage their waste.
“You can keep your waste till it gets to a dustbin before you dispose of it. Our government also needs to do more. After providing infrastructure, we need to have bins around. We need to have more people, and corporations to collect our waste. We don’t want people to burn it anymore, because it harms our environment”.
Another expert from the Ecology Department, at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Samuel Agele, said the hazards of waste in environments are of concern globally, particularly in Nigeria, and that the indiscriminate disposal of waste can either be organic or inorganic.
According to him, “The way out is to organize advocacy and enhancement for people about the negative consequences of indiscriminate waste disposal in the environment. We need to educate ourselves, and then we also have to make up our minds as individuals that we are part of nature as a result whatever we do ask questions about nature.
“The government should improve on its efforts on waste disposal in markets and big cities, as there are always huge bodies of waste generated annually from these places. Waste should not be allowed to accumulate to a heavy level where it will become difficult to pack, and individuals in households and communities should make every effort to find a way to dispose of their waste correctly.
“Apart from advocacy, training can be given to communities on proper ways to dispose of waste so that they can avoid environmental hazards”, he added.
Oyo State waste Mgmt. react.
The official in charge of Monttainai Recycling & Waste Management Company, Mr. Olanrewaju Ladipo said plans are underway to reach out to the market in question as they are also making effort to enforce laws in the State markets.
“First, we are starting with the exterior markets, I mean all the markets that are by the roadside because we don’t want them to be dirty as they usually bring their waste and pour it on the road at night. So we try to move around every day to ensure we pack their waste and ensure a clean environment.
“Ibadan people are used to free things, and waste collectors indeed visit the markets during Governor Ajimobi’s time as he does it for free. But now, during this Governor Seyi Makjnde’s government, we tasked all of them to pay for their waste and we issue them receipts for approval.”
“We are also engaging all the stakeholders in the market to ensure that we work together for a better environment. There are some markets where we go weekly to pack their waste, while at others we go there three times a week. Concerning Ogunpa Market, we will set up a meeting with their Chairman to discuss their waste”, the official added.