For about two weeks, heaps of refuse have dotted medians of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, just as drums have been overflowing with litter.
Among other routes, persons plying Orita to Challenge, Bode to Agodi Gate, Aleshinloye to Dugbe, Tollgate to Ojoo, Mokola to Sango, Dugbe to Molete, have in recent times, had to behold unsightly stacks of refuse and grapple with the stench from the unpacked waste.
The situation is not peculiar only to medians and residential communities but also to market areas like Bode, Ojoo, Mapo where the big drums are filled to the brim with all forms of waste.
For residents of Ibadan, the situation has gone from bad to worse, with several questioning the efficiency of the present arrangement by the state government regarding waste management, while warning that they are being exposed to health risks like cholera.
The situation, it was gathered, is due to the fact that some private sector refuse collectors (PSPs) stopped packing waste because they are being owed by the state government coupled with that the current number of PSPs engaged is inadequate to efficiently handle the amount of waste daily churned out by residents.
A fruit seller at Bode market, Mrs Fausat Alawuje, said the packing of waste had been fluctuating for more than a month.
She said several attempts were made by the traders in the market to speak with the contractor to help in disposing off the waste proved abortive with the contractor informing the traders that it was not packing the waste because it was being owed by the state government.
She said, “It has been more than one month since our waste was disposed of. At first, we were told that the dump truck was faulty, later we were informed that the contractors could not dispose of the waste because the state government is owing them.
“We are dying of the odour coming from the waste bin here yet we are told to prevent ourselves from Cholera. Before now, waste was disposed of twice a week. In fact, we were thinking of bribing the contractors for the waste to be disposed of but we were told it cannot solve the situation.”
A resident of Molete, Mr Shuaib Adeleke, said it was high time the current government permanently addressed the issue of waste disposal, noting that the issue of waste being unpacked for days had become a recurring issue.
Adeleke said: “For about a month or two, a lot of waste has been noticed by the roadsides and in the middle of the road. I think the government should look into ways of ensuring effective waste disposal in the state.”
However, Chairman Landlord Association ward 11, Ibadan South East local government, Alhaji Kola Bakare said the contractors were promptly disposing of waste in his area.
Another resident, Mr Kola Badmus observed that refuse had piled up on the medians because the contractors were not promptly coming around to pack the waste.
“It is a mess because the waste is not packed on time. Waste bins, waste drums are full and we are now surrounded by waste,” Badmus said.
Another resident of Soka, Mrs Tolu Ayeola stated that she never waited for contractors before disposing of her waste but rather burns her waste and throws it into the Ogunpa drainage.
On his part, a motorist, Mr Oladele Adenuga urged the state government to provide more waste drums across the state.
Adenuga described the waste management challenge as cumbersome, observing that the medians are quick to be filled with waste minutes after contractors had just packed waste.
A shop owner at Aleshinloye market, Mr Babatunde Olabode said without the contractors packing waste on time and the government providing alternatives like drums, the medians will continue to be littered.
He said the roads are particularly littered with waste because some scavengers scatter waste on the medians to make their pick of what they need.
Babatunde said: “Once those packing waste fail to come on time, there is litter overflowing everywhere. Unfortunately, there is no other alternative than for people to drop their waste on the median. People find it easier to drop their waste in the middle of the road.
There are also those who dismantle the waste, removing cartons and leaving the litter scattered and the breeze blows it anywhere.
“The only solution is for those packing the waste to always come around, if not the waste will continue to pile up. There are no drums around and that is the best alternative. If the government can provide alternatives like drums, we are willing to pay but also the amount must not be exorbitant.”
Speaking with Tribune Online, Chairman, Oyo State Waste Management Authority, Mr Morounfolu Adelore admitted the situation to accumulation of unpacked waste for about a week.
Adelore said the state was being held to ransom by the PSP operators who complain that the new waste architecture proposed by the state government is unfriendly as well as the fact that there were issues with financing them.
Due to the quagmire over the issues, he said the PSPs had either not been working or not working to capacity.
Adelore, however, said he met with the PSPs on Wednesday morning to sort out the issue of financing, assuring that the about 12 PSPs for the 11 local government areas in Ibadan will begin to work from Wednesday night to clear the backlog of waste.
Asked when the present waste will be cleared, Adelore said it will take three days non-stop, using a payloader, eight open trucks, five compactors working consecutively to clear the accumulated waste on the Ojoo to Tollgate route alone, which he described as the longest route.
He, however, noted that the state was working on procuring its own compactors to clear waste on the medians such that the PSPs will only have the duty to clear waste inside communities.
While acknowledging the inadequacies of the government in effectively clearing waste, Adelore also bemoaned the attitude of residents who load the medians and roadsides with waste minutes after a compactor had packed waste.
Speaking, Adelore said: “It is an accumulation of waste over a period of six, seven days because we generate waste every day, every hour, every second. You cannot control that and once they are not properly disposed of, there is a problem.
“There is a little delay because the PSP operators that we are using don’t consider the new waste architecture we are using as friendly. So, there is a complaint and the government is trying to address that issue in their own interest.
“While doing that, I think they use that as an opportunity to hold the government to ransom. That is why some of them, where we are supposed to have eight compactors, only two will show up. Where we are supposed to see five, we will see one or not at all. We have had cases of resorting to using our pickup to clear Secretariat waste when it is becoming embarrassing.
“I called them and met them this morning concerning financing, that has been sorted out. They are back to work but before those heaps of refuse will fizzle, it took days for it to gather, it will take two, three days for it to fizzle out.
“This is because the compactor has the capacity. We have 23 metric tonnes compactor; we have 14 metric tonnes compactor and not all those ones are participating. So by the time they load and start.
“If you take the Sango route to Eleyele, you feel sorry. The people installing the street light already dug where they want to lay the pipe but the hole has been filled up with dirt and those that want to work there just remove it and throw it right on the road.
“So compactor will not just be able to take it. We will need street sweepers to pack it before you can put it inside the compactor and that will take time. Before a compactor will move from Poly junction to Arometa, it is filled up. And you will have to go to the landfill to dump. We already got PSPs and they will work overnight.
“We are using between eight and twelve PSPs at the moment and we have told His Excellency that there is a need to procure our own compactors. That will help a great deal and we will be able to do interventions, approach the dark spots.
“You cannot call all these PSPs and make use of them at the dark spots. The longest highway in Ibadan is the one from Ojoo to Tollgate. You have to ply that road and see the situation of the road and it is the accumulation of it.
“For us to face the longest highway in Ibadan, we will need consecutively a payloader, eight open trucks, and five compactors that will work three days non-stop for it to be clear.”
Questioned about the fact that the issue of ineffective waste management was becoming a recurring decimal, he said: “We will get it right. The revenue coming from the centre is not so much and we have to commend our governor for meeting his campaign promises, paying salaries as and when due and other things, against all odds. We are operating a very lean purse and he is still meeting up with these things and he knows we can’t afford to fail in waste management.
“He is working round the clock to ensure that we have our own compactors soon. If we have our own compactors, we won’t need PSPs for medians because medians are the responsibility of the government and you know this attitude of us putting waste on the medians.
“We wouldn’t want to pay the PSPs and prefer to put our waste on the medians and it has become the responsibility of the government.”
Asked about suggestions of getting drums and when the dumping of refuse on the medians will become a thing of the past, Adelore said the state was in the process of getting uniforms for 150 persons engaged to arrest persons found dumping refuse on the medians.
“Yes, we are looking in the direction of drums but for everything to work, we need enforcement. Nothing will work; we won’t get compliance. People would not want to comply until you put some force.
“Through the magnanimity of His Excellency, we have employed about 150 persons. We are working on their uniforms so that they will be recognised from far off, so they won’t get lost in the midst of the crowd.
“We want them to have toga of working for the government and the fear will be there. In spite of the fact that we won’t encourage too much force, they have to be known and recognised as people working for the government.
“150 persons spread across the 11 local government areas is not enough but it is something. We pay them the N30,000 minimum wage.
“Their assignment is to arrest people to serve as a deterrent, get them to do social work, roll up their sleeves, sweep the streets, create some kind of inconvenience for them and shame so that they will desist from doing that.”