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Gombe and its daunting environmental challenges

From its creation to date, Gombe State has been transformed from a big village to a developing city with basic infrastructural facilities. Indeed this democratic…

From its creation to date, Gombe State has been transformed from a big village to a developing city with basic infrastructural facilities. Indeed this democratic dispensation is a blessing to Gombe. But every development has its own negative impact on either the society or the environment or both, and it is against this background we would view Gombe.
First and foremost is the issue of residential layout. For decades, all we knew is the traditional rope layout by farm owners with only road network of 15feet width. And this is the beginning of all our problems. Ideally, it is the responsibility of the state government through the ministry of land and survey to compensate farm owners for their lands and make a comprehensive master layout of plots which have streets with names, and plots with numbers, while sites for public utilities such as electricity, water, hospitals, schools, sports centers, markets, worship centers, police posts and refuse disposal sites are encompassed in the layout. Presently, almost all quarters in Gombe are without good layouts; therefore roads constructions and other utility services are desperately required.
To start with, we have to give kudos to the present administrations for the road networks which are dual, wide and of high quality. But have we visited the land degraded by the construction company in the name of laterite excavation for these road constructions?  One would see the several hectares of land turned into deep valley that may one day be a catastrophe. Where is environmental impact assessment? Why is it that companies don’t use the laterite hills we have as is done in other states? Another such example is a wide ditch in Arawa quarters created by the firm rehabilitating the railway line, which has turned into a mosquito and pollution center. These companies do that to reduce construction cost at the expense of the people.
Those people whose houses were demolished but were compensated because of road construction in the metropolis must relocate to the newly  established quarters without good layout of plots. The cycle continues.
Another contemporary catastrophe is the loss of lives at major roads in the metropolis – the Tashan Dukku and Gombe Line motor park auto crash incidences are always fresh in our memories. Now, the highway with such tendency is the relocated Mile 3 motor park to Gombe bypass. Nothing was done to avert the danger associated with loading/offloading passengers; roadside petty trading and petrol black marketeering which are all carried out around this highway.
The good government of Gombe places road traffic lights in almost all the major roads of the capital city to ensure free traffic flow and accident free roads, but the opposite is the result. While law abiding drivers stick to the rules, violators cause avoidable accidents because there’s no punishment or fine imposed on the offenders.
In her effort to control the famous gullies in the state capital, the state government constructed solid gully control culverts in almost all the notorious gullies, some that have become wide enough are now narrowed to a minimum width, but it will be  a different menace, disposal of refuse in them.
Refuse collection and disposal is another environmental problem as waste collection centers were not available in our quarters except now that GOSEPA has provided some by carving them out from roads and school premises. However, households still dump refuse in culverts and gullies thereby causing stagnant water which breeds insects. Only Inex Limited and Gombe State University carry out sanitary landfill which results in land reclamation. On the issue of sewage disposal, the traditional pit digging near houses and subsequent evacuation and pouring into the dug pit and burying it is an all over disposal method in Gombe. In some places, people dispose their sewage into the public drainages and culverts, polluting the environment and subsequently contaminating the river. Feaco oral infections are easily transmissible in this act. The little sewage disposal companies are expensive and normally dispose their sewage waste in an open space outside the metropolis. This is an environmental pollution.
Similarly, on the issues of cemetery, the situation is alarming. The present cemetery has perimeter of 1 km square, undulating sandy soil land, vulnerable to erosion and scavenging. Although access road and culvert constructions are going on in an irregular shape, issues of shallow and disorganized graves; inadequate water supply; inadequate standard record taking; insecurity, inadequate undertakers. Demographic data such as crude death; maternal mortality; infant mortality rates can be obtained from the record of the cemetery if properly taken and these indicators are vital in health care policies. At present, graves have reached the entrance gate, had it been there was proper arrangement of graves, the used spaced could have been half. Therefore, policy on dead disposal according to the environmental health as well as the religion of the community in conformity to the topography should be made.
In an ideal situation, grains and their storage should be in  standard health condition where they are protected against rodents and other pests. Such standards include organized warehouses with rodents/pest proof facilities, using appropriate storage technology, sited far away from residential and industrial areas. A look at the famous Gombe grain market located in the heart of the city is disheartening. Overcrowded unorganized stalls as storage facilities, evidence of rodent and other pest infestation, the use of organophosphate compound   as storage chemical is another public health concern. Simple silo storage technique is not applied there.
In her effort to improve the standard of primary and secondary schools, the state government renovated and upgraded the famous Hassan Central Primary school to international standard, but the possible danger in her location is road traffic accidents of pupil who will be crossing the Liji highway. Traffic wardens are not there every time, therefore, there is need for a pedestrain bridge to save the lives of tomorrow’s leaders.  
The jewel in the savannah will soon never glitter again if care is not taken due to the deforestation activities in the name of fire woods supply for domestic energy. Hundreds of lorries and trucks loaded with these woods move out under the cover of darkness, even to other states. Thousands of square kilometers of our savannah are turned to desert. Only the Mahadi Foundation is doing something.
The state government should start making good layout of our virgin lands for residential with sites for basic utilities, establishment of small and intermediate scale industrial estate which will boost the economy of the state and create jobs for our teeming youth.
The article was contributed by Abdulganiyu Musa, a higher Environmental Health Officer with the Gombe State University Clinic.

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