Major streets in Awka, Anambra State capital, have been taken over by refuse as residents lament that there may be an outbreak of diseases in the state, if nothing is done urgently.
South East Trust discovered that offensive odour oozed from the heaps of refuse from some of the major streets, markets and roads in the capital city of Anambra State.
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According to the residents, despite all complaints, the agency in charge is not doing anything to clear the refuse.
They also said that given that virtually every part of the city is filled with dump sites, Awka may experience serious flooding this year.
It was also gathered that the refuse is overflowing into the gutter which might complicate flooding in the state.
The popular Eke Awka market is badly affected as traders lament that the second gate of the market has become an eyesore because of the dirty environment.
Mr. Micheal Uche of Nnaemeka Street, off Arthur Eze Road Awka, said that one of the litter points has almost covered the street, thereby creating traffic hold-up in the area.
According to him, the Anambra state Waste Management Agency, ASWAMA, has not been clearing the litter points for months, thereby creating serious challenges to road users and becoming a threat to the health of residents. He feared an outbreak of diseases if the situation is not addressed.
A restaurant operator at Nnaemeka Street, Mr. Nwaora Chikodi, whose shop is directly opposite a litter point, told South East Trust that they have made several pleas to the agency in charge but it has not responded.
“I am losing customers because of this. It has almost crippled my business,” he said.
Another resident of Awka, Mrs. Ngozi Okafor, a civil servant, said that it is a shame that refuse has taken over the state capital at a time many visitors are coming into the state in preparation for the forthcoming governorship election.
She said: “Go to Okpuno road, Nnaemeka Street, Amaenyi, Ifite road and others, you will see various litter sites taking over the streets and the roads in the state capital. People drive around today in Awka, blocking their noses while people in their houses cannot sleep because of the odour from the dumpsites”
One of the staff of ASWAMA, who confided in South East Trust, said that the agency workers are not paid and they cannot work on an empty stomach.
According to the source, workers in the agency are owed several months salaries and the government is not doing anything to pay.
He also lamented that residents are not also helping matters by not properly bagging their refuse.
The Managing Director of ASWAMA, Mr. Amachi Akorah, blamed the delay in evacuating the waste on a system breakdown at the dump site due to flooding caused by road construction.
He said that the rain of June 6 caused serious flooding at the site and slowed down the operations of the agency.
“There was a construction project that erroneously channelled water to the direction of the dumpsite and the whole place got flooded and because of that ASWAMA had to pick waste minimally from Awka to the site.
“We cannot dump waste at other places apart from the dumpsite. The truck that goes seven times a day will only go twice or once and the waste builds up in the town,” he said.
According to him, the government has directed the Ministry of Works to clean up the dumpsite, noting that the agency is returning to intensive mop-up exercises to clear the city of dirt.
Akorah said that given their intensive operation, they would clean up all the litter sites in the next three days.
He regretted that residents are wrongly disposing of their waste without proper bagging.
According to him, they relaxed the arrest of environmental offenders because of the scarcity of policemen in the streets.
He said the government has paid all outstanding debts it was owing workers of the agency.