Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Following the perceived health challenges posed by pollution, residents of Lemna Community in Calabar Municipal Local Government Area of Cross River state have drawn the attention of the Cross River state government to the health challenges they are facing as a result of the dump site situated in the community.
TNN gathered that the waste dump was not only polluting the air, but was also infiltrating and polluting water, contributing to disease outbreaks in the affected community.
Speaking with TNN, one of the residents, Mr. Felix Essien described the refuse heap as tormenting and unhealthy to them, especially as it is located at the capital city of the state. He appealed to the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade to immediately relocate the dump site to an area that is scarcely populated by humans.
“Over 20 years ago there were no houses here when the government instituted the place as a dump. But after a while the area now has thousands of houses surrounding the environment and the government is still dumping there. The place is no more hygienic to the people. We therefore call on the government to remove the dump, probably take it to another place. That is what I am pleading for the government to do”, he appealed.
Essien also disclosed that the dump had a place where people fed on through the excavation of most of the dirts for recycling and marketing which he said was capable of affecting the health of the state.
He said “many people now see it as a scrap where they feed on by taking things outside to sale. They load pure water bags and different trucks come in to load aluminium and other things and all these boys call ‘skolombo boys’ are all residing on the dump and it’s not hygienic to the society because these boys come out from the dump and mix with people.
“Sometimes they bring corpses and dead animals there, and these boys; since they don’t have anything to eat, eat anything they see including the dead animals thrown into the dump and they can do anything.
“Many of them turn to armed robbers that we see today in the society. Many of them become hooligans and hoodlums attacking the state”. He called on the government to help these boys who live tattered lives, even as he advised the government to empower them with trade and skills since majority of them were orphans.
In an interaction with the chairman of the scavengers who described himself as Emmanuel, he affirmed that they survived from the garbage thrown at the dump which is their abode. He also disclosed that the state government had visited and promised to take care of them. He called on well meaning Nigerians to come to their aid by donating relief materials to them.
Another youth who also identified himself as Emmanuel told TNN that he was not happy with the lifestyle at the dump but had no choice than to continue living the way life has presented itself. He narrated that majority of them were orphans and would be glad if anyone could come to their assistance and empower them.
Speaking on the health implications of improper waste management, a virologist who pleaded anonymity said the outbreaks of infectious diseases in Nigeria are due to the way the people managed wastes.
He noted that poor waste management was the reason the country keeps experiencing the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, malaria and diarrhoea.
All efforts to reach the State Commissioner for environment, Mfon Bassey through text message and calls failed as he never responded at the time of filing this report. The same goes with the General Manager, Cross River Waste Management Agency, CRWMA, whose phone has been switched off for some days.