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An open letter to FCT Minister

My first request is that you please, scrap the monthly environmental sanitation exercise. No democratic government insults its people by branding them dirty, and certainly,…

My first request is that you please, scrap the monthly environmental sanitation exercise. No democratic government insults its people by branding them dirty, and certainly, no nation shuts down its federal capital for three hours every month-end just for its people to clean it up. Cleanliness is an impulsive routine that we all do without prodding. Our most pressing problem is not how to clean up, but how to dispose of or recycle waste. I doubt if you can build a recycling plant in less than one year, but I suggest that you strengthen the capacity of the AEPB to enlighten the people to make cleanliness a natural way of life and to punish offenders. In doing this, you must impress it upon the AEPB to enforce relevant laws without infringing on the inalienable rights of the people.

Honourable Minister sir, Africans do not trade in shops. They buy and sell in the open air. Your environmental sanitation team must find a way to ensure that people can buy and sell in the open air while observing the basic rules of hygiene. In other countries (including Europe & America), markets move from district to district without leaving behind a mess. We can borrow from them and be civil in its operation. Believe me, it can be done. Every district in Abuja has a colour code, legal street traders (small scale businesses such as recharge cards and call centres, vendors etc) must observe the colour code in their areas of operations or in the alternative, you can adopt a general colour (just like taxis) to legalise trading within areas that does not constitute a nuisance. This way, you can encourage self-employment, maintain sanitation and by reasonable taxation, even generate revenue.

It is also true that this land, the FCT, is big enough to accommodate all. We, the poor, find it totally misanthropic that we cannot find places to eat meals commensurate with our earnings during working hours. The idea of leaving food vending exclusively to people with shops is an aberration to the African tradition. There is no reason why the kosei and koko seller cannot come out at dawn, close at 8.00 am and return again in the evening with proper supervision and excellent sanitation and legitimacy. If you put the right things in place, this could add colour to our city and become a model, plus, you can have sanitary inspectors who in addition to ensuring health and safety, would test for diseases and constantly review rules. This can create employment and ensure service. Legitimise the operation of bukas too as there are many ‘big’ people who relish open air meal with the correct ambience. It is our way of life. We can’t all eat in five star hotels and pretentiously gay eateries which attract potential clients with nice smelling but bad tasting meals cooked mostly in horrible environments.

Traffic is another area that should engage your tenure. Your predecessor allowed Oceanic Bank to destroy the roads built with tax payers’ money by erecting car wreckers instead of speed bumps. Speed bumps, where they exist are good ways of restraining people from turning public roads into Formula One race-tracks. But they must be adequately signposted and must be true bumps. A good example of a proper bump could be found at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel. May I suggest that you speedily remove the car wreckers and erect speed bumps where need be. Honourable Minister, the idea of erecting traffic lights everywhere for a country that has no effective public transportation system, no metroline, etc is turning Abuja into a driver’s and social nightmare. I suggest that you create a special traffic unit or employ more VIO’s to control traffic. They could work two shifts, Mondays through Fridays at peak periods. Please, I appeal to you to remove the traffic light at Abacha barracks. It is one of the most stupid thing to allow a machine to control traffic when it has no idea of the effect of what it is doing. You should not close down an entire part of this country in the name of modernity and the Karu-Nyanya end of town is the gateway to the city from the north central and north-eastern states. Let human beings control traffic here during peak hours of morning and evening and let there be enforcement, if necessary, mobile courts to ensure compliance.

There are lots of other things you can do, but time is short. I wish you well.

Sincerely,

Tunde ASAJU

POSTCRIPT: What is NEPA up to in Karu?

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