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Agony as waste litters Kano streets months after private firm takes over mgt

Several issues have dogged waste management in Kano since the state government handed over the management of refuse in the Kano Metropolis to a private…

Several issues have dogged waste management in Kano since the state government handed over the management of refuse in the Kano Metropolis to a private company, but the most worrisome is the increase in the dirt across the metropolis.

Daily Trust investigation revealed that the new refuse management system introduced by the private firm has hitches and seems not to be working as major streets of the metropolis now look dirtier. 

It would be recalled that the Kano State Government in May last year scrapped its Refuse Management and Sanitation Board (REMASAB) and handed over its waste management plant and equipment to a private firm, CapeGate Investment, for “better refuse control and sanitation” in the state.

According to the commissioners for information and environment, Muhammad Garba and Dr Kabiru Getso, respectively, the decision came after the state government entered into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the company aimed at sustainable municipal waste management in line with global practices in 11 selected Local Government Areas: Dala, Fagge, Gwale, Kano Municipal, Nassarawa, Tarauni, Kumbotso, Ungogo, Dawakin Tofa, Dawakin Kudu and Gezawa.

Kwari Textile Market

On its part, CapeGate Investment, through its Chief Operating Officer (COO), Bello Abba Yakasai, during an interview shortly after the agreement, promised to generate 150 megawatts (Mw) of electricity from waste in the next five years which would last for 20 years, adding that the company would also take charge of payment of staff engaged in cleaning streets.

However, many months after signing the agreement, many contradicting issues have sprung up, resulting in leaving the state with a dirtier look, especially in markets and on streets. This, the residents, are worried constitutes a great threat to their health aside from affecting businesses and deteriorating traffic situation.

When our reporter visited major streets in the state, especially around marketplaces, they were littered with dirt, as most of the dirt in drains have been emptied on the streets, thereby polluting the air and increasing traffic congestion.

France Road which leads to the Abubakar Rimi International Market (Yankura Market) is an example of this development, as well as Kantin Kwari Textile Market and other markets within the city.

Daily Trust also observed heavy dirt on the Alhassan Dantata Flyover that links Bello Road, as well as under the bridge along Ibrahim Taiwo Road.

“Kano has never been this dirty. Just look at all the streets; everywhere is stinking. This company is supposed to improve on refuse management, but the opposite has been the case,” a resident told Daily Trust.

A trader at the Kantin Kwari Textile Market, Shamsu Dan Aljannah, also told our reporter that, “This is the situation as you can see presently. They no longer clean the streets, and it is affecting our business seriously. Everyday our customers are complaining. The bad odour that is coming out and the traffic are really alarming.”

It was gathered that part of the reasons behind the failure to clean the streets is the non-payment of staff engaged by the company many months after the agreement.

An aged man working with the refuse management firm said he was paid once since the company took over the cleaning services in the state.

“I received N10,000 once since this company took over from REMASAB. This is our fear since we heard of the partnership because we were afraid of this kind of situation. We know our salary would be at risk.

“I’m just managing myself to come here and only get a little token from passersby. I have not been paid for seven months now. We have families; many of us leave in rented apartments, so I don’t think we can survive this way,” the old man lamented.

Another staff, who also chose not to be named, said he had since abandoned his portion since there was no salary. 

“I cannot sacrifice my life for something that is not considered serious by the government. In the last two months, I have not swept my portion because they have not paid us since last six months. I know many of our people that stopped working because of this situation. We complained to the government severally on radio but they didn’t take any action.”

Moreover, despite the failure to clean the streets, CapeGate Investment is charging business owners to remove waste. It charges from N3,000 monthly; depending on the size and type of business.

A printer, Sani Nazifi, said, “They brought a paper containing the amount to pay monthly for cleaning and removal of refuse from my place of work, but I didn’t pay them, honestly. We thought since they are going to convert them to something useful, we won’t pay anything. The amount is N3,000, but I didn’t pay them and they didn’t come back here.”

Daily Trust Saturday also gathered that the firm has resorted to using public address system announcing that refuse management would no longer be free and that business owners and home owners must be ready to pay.

One of the announcers on Hajj Camp Road was heard telling business owners in the area that they were not expected to clean the frontage of their shops but expected to pay their monthly charges to CapeGate which would in turn send workers to clean the streets.

“Whether you clean it yourself or not, you are required to pay your monthly charges,” the announcer, who was being ferried in a CapeGate refuse van, said.

When contacted to react on the issues raised, the spokesman of Cape Gate Investment, Jamila Hamisu Mai Iyali, told our reporter that she was on leave and identified one Fatima as her deputy to react.

Speaking to our reporter, Fatima said, “For the salary payment, efforts are being put in place to pay everybody and very soon they will receive their salaries. And for the monthly payment by business owners, it is part of the agreement signed between the company and the government; there is no problem with that.”

On the issue of failure to remove waste dumps on the streets, Fatima said it was the operations team that was in charge and promised to get back to our reporter after finding out about it. 

Firm made mistake taking all vehicles for repairs, issues now resolved – Govt

When contacted, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr Kabiru Ibrahim Getso, said it was true that the company had not paid its staff for some months.

He also stated that the current situation in the state which left many places to look dirty and with refuse dumped in various places was because the company took its vehicles for maintenance which led them to stop working, adding that the situation had been resolved.

Dr Getso said, “The idea of handling waste management to the company is to bring innovation in waste management to ensure that it is being processed unlike before when we only dumped refuse somewhere without using it. We are focused in producing three things from that: electricity, organic fertiliser and inorganic fertiliser.

“The company made one mistake and we called their attention. They took the whole of their vehicles for maintenance; which is wrong, and that is what led to the delay in clearing the dumped waste along the streets.

“For the salaries, we also intervened in that and they have started paying some of the staff. I assure you that in the next few days all of them will receive their salaries.”

Getso added that the company also had issues with banks and some working conditions, but that the problems had been resolved. 

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