In the past, Calabar, the Cross River State capital was known for its green and clean state. It was not difficult to sing the slogan-‘ the Canaan City’ or the nation’s paradise- everywhere. It’s cultural and tourist attractions were top notch. It was a place everyone longed to be. It is even surprising that during the longest street party in Africa, talking about the Calabar Christmas Carnival, where millions of people trooped into the state from various parts of the world, the city’s cleanliness was never compromised.
One could actually say that navigating the streets of Calabar could boost longevity because of the freshness of the air and the serenity in the atmosphere. However, unfolding events could make one to begin wondering if the Calabar of yesterday is still the Calabar of today.
Recently, unfolding events around the Lemna community along 8th miles where a dump site is located has made residents lament, as the site has become a life threatening trap to them. And just a few days ago, rainfall rendered havoc to residents as parts of the dump site were washed away by flood, littering wastes around the community.
Lamenting, a resident of the community, Stanley Bisong said they were no more happy with the situation as little rainfall would push the wastes to their homes, thereby causing severe environmental pollution.
“I am a very old resident of Lemna. What happened today is not the first time, it has happened before. We have had a situation where the dump site is filled to the brim and they continue dumping. And we don’t know the reason why they continue dumping even when the dump site is filled.
“Now, they have dumped to the extent that the dump has blocked all the drainages and water channels. So for that reason, any slight rain- and we have a situation where
there will be flood- the rain will now start shifting the refuse from where it was dumped down to the road and to people’s compounds. And the fact that the dump site is close to people’s compound is already a problem and not taking care of the dump site, allowing the drivers to dump indiscriminately, blocking the water channels, is what we’re suffering.
“We just woke up this morning to discover that the whole wastes that were dumped last night, the rain has shifted all to our compounds and that of our neighbor and you can see the whole road, everywhere is littered with refuse so it’s very very embarrassing and we’re not happy at all because this is not the first time. We have had these issues, we have called on government and all those concerned and yet nothing is being done that’s why the residents are getting angry.
“As it stands now, we do not want to see any truck coming in to dump until they decide on what to do with the dump site. It is filled, there is no space again for them to dump. Now they’re dumping by the water channels, dumping indiscriminately by the road side and then when there is a slight rainfall, you see the whole thing coming out to the road and to people’s compounds.
“So it’s not the best, government needs to look at this dump site, probably look at somewhere else to continue dumping and see how they can shift whatever that is around so that we can have peace here, if not, it may come to a point where this road will no longer be accessible because the whole dump will just come and block the road just as it has blocked somebody’s compound right now”, he decried.
Meanwhile, head of the dump site who declined mentioning his name also affirmed that the situation has been reoccurring. He assured that they were on top of the situation to ensure that it doesn’t occur again. He said:
“What happened is that the people that used to come and dump in the night, normally you see that we use to block the dump but yesterday, they said the town was overloaded so we decided to open the dump in the day time because normally when you block the dump in the night they will not dump carelessly; every refuse can be controlled but this one, that the dump was opened and they dumped carelessly.
“But we’re going to clear it. That is not the first time it has happened, we’re going to wipe it. We’re going to clear everything and working towards enhancing the mobile of the dump”.
Speaking on the effect the situation could have on the residents, an environmental expertise, Tobin Peniel told TNN that such situation was the result of so many diseases in the world today. He said illegal dumping of refuse mostly in industrial and municipal areas had become a major issue of concern to human and its environment.
He decried that the present environmental pollution derived from solid waste littering has created a lot of health challenges to household residents around the dumping sites. He said it was evident that most of the people living around the dump location were not aware of the harmful effects of refuse dumping other than the offensive odour oozing from the area.
“When an environment is not hygienic and clean it poses a lot of harm and negative impacts on humans, especially outdoor workers, workers producing infectious materials while young children get easily affected and are most vulnerable to this act of ignorance and dirtiness. The group at risk from the unscientific disposal of solid waste include; the population in areas where there is no proper waste disposal method, especially the pre-school children; waste workers; and
workers in facilities producing toxic and infectious material. Other high-risk groups include population living close to a waste dump and those whose water supply has become contaminated, either due to waste dumping or leakage from landfill sites. Uncollected solid waste also increases risk of injury, and infection.
“In particular, organic domestic waste poses a serious threat, since they ferment, creating conditions favourable to the survival and growth of microbial pathogens. Direct handling of solid wastes can result in various types of infectious and chronic diseases with the waste workers and the rag pickers being the most vulnerable. Exposure to hazardous waste can affect human health, children being more vulnerable to these pollutants. In fact, direct exposure can lead to diseases through chemical exposure as the release of chemical waste into the environment leads to chemical poisoning.
“Air pollution has various health effects. The health of susceptible and sensitive individuals can be impacted even on low air pollution days. Short-term exposure to air pollutants is closely related to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma, respiratory disease, and high rates of hospitalization (a measurement of morbidity). The long-term effects associated with air pollution are chronic asthma, pulmonary insufficiency, cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular mortality”, Tobin explained.
All efforts made to reach across to the General Manager of Cross River State Waste Management Agency, Oko Sunday and the Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Princewill Ayim proved abortive as their phone numbers were switched off as at press time. There were non responses to the text messages sent to their phones either.