It will be somewhat difficult to convince a first-time visitor to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, that there are some waste dumpsites located in some remote areas of the city. Investigations have shown that apart from approved refuse dumpsites, smaller dumpsites are located in some areas of the city where the operation of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB has yet to be felt.
Although, the AEPB has created the Gosa village waste dumpsite as part of its efforts to keep the FCT clean, the public perception of the dumpsite somewhat reflects the ugly side of an emerging cosmopolitan city. The dumpsite is certainly the biggest in the FCT and it serves as the central dumpsite for domestic and industrial wastes from all parts of the city.
Located in Idu Industrial Layout, about 30km off the popular Jabi Road; the dumpsite, which is home to most of the refuse generated by FCT residents, is obscure and relatively unknown to most residents. Funny enough, the heap of solid wastes at the site has inadvertently been a source of livelihood for scavengers who always throng the site in search of discarded items, which could either be sold or recycled for commercial purposes.
However, the collection of these items entails multiple processes, as some people are always engaged in sorting the trash into different categories and loading them onto trucks and articulated vehicles.
For instance, Mallam Babale Adamu, a young man who hails from Kano State, said that since he started the garbage-sorting business at the dumpsite, he had been able to eke a living. He said that his wife and children have also joined him in the business. “We are happy doing this because it is better than idleness and stealing, we’ve been able to overcome the current unemployment challenge facing many people across the country. Several able-bodied men and women are now willing to engage in all kinds of menial jobs to keep the body and soul together,” he added.
Adamu said that they get regular earnings from loading the sorted waste items into trucks for entrepreneurs that came to the site to buy discarded plastic items for recycling in other parts of the country, particularly Kano. The health hazards of the business notwithstanding, Adamu claimed that he grosses between N6, 000 and N10, 000 daily for loading waste items onto trucks and articulated vehicles.
Investigation shows that no fewer than five articulated vehicles are loaded with assorted items at the site daily. However, Mallam Ahmad Sani, another worker at the site, stressed that they would have loved to be engaged in a more befitting vocation than scavenging at the dumpsite.
In spite of the economic benefits of the dumpsite, particularly to scavengers, government has consistently bemoaned the filthy state of the dumpsite, saying that it was tainting the image of the FCT as a modern capital city. For instance, the National Assembly’s Joint Committee on the FCT has complained about the dirty state of the Gosa refuse dumpsite. “I am sad with what I see here with my colleagues, it’s an eyesore that does not befit any human being in any city no matter how uncivilised. But this is what we are confronted with,” said Sen. Smart Adeyemi, the committee’s chairman, after an oversight visit to the site. He said that the committee had recommended some measures to deal with the filthy situation at the site.
However, the AEPB’s acting director, Mrs. Aishat Adebayo, stressed that the board has initiated some waste-management procedures at the site to handle the situation. “The site is still under construction and when it is fully completed, there would be facilities for sorting waste materials that can be recycled and others that cannot. We are currently benefiting from the federal government’s national priority projects at Gudu, Mpape and Kubwa and the dumpsites have waste sorting facilities; those refuse that could not be recycled would be deposited at the Gosa refuse dumpsite,” she said.
Besides, Adebayo said that the road to the site was being reconstructed to ease the movement of waste-evacuation trucks to the area. When completed, there will no longer be any need for scavengers; we are trying to discourage their activities and we are also looking into how we can integrate some of them into the system,” she said.
To buttress Adebayo’s claims, Diamond Construction Ltd., has recently resumed reconstruction work at the Gosa dumpsite’s access road, according to media reports. The media reported that road construction machines, which were earlier removed from the site, have returned, while the company’s vehicles were seen moving materials back to site.
The 12-km road project, whose contract was awarded by the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, at the cost of N422 million in 2010, was initially expected to be completed within six months but it was abandoned in 2012. Mr. Kingsley Obiakor, the group managing director of Diamond Construction Ltd., said that the company’s return to site was sequel to the FCDA’s directive that work should resume at site and its pledge to fully pay up the contract fees. Obiakor, who attributed the delay in the project’s completion to the lack of funds, said that the FCDA had so far paid the company N112 million. We were given this job to execute for a period of six months and we started work immediately. So, it is not our fault to have stopped work but we have resumed again because they have asked us to come back to site and they have promised to pay,” he said.
Alhaji Ahmed Bello, the FCDA resident engineer supervising the project, also conceded that paucity of funds had delayed the completion of the road project.
All the same, analysts say that tangible efforts should be made to adopt modern waste treatment techniques in the FCT, insisting that filthy dumpsites are an anathema in contemporary waste management processes of 21st century civilisation. (NAN Feature)