For many years, residents of Ita-Epa in the Oja-Gboro community of Kwara State clamoured for the construction of drainage to curb the incessant problem of erosion.
Their prayers were eventually answered in 2016 and 2018 when senator representing Kwara Central, Bukola Saraki, nominated a drainage project to be constructed in the community.
Spanning a few kilometres, the drainage cuts through the Ita Epa community in Oja-Gboro, Ilorin Kwara State.
As expected, the drainage worked in reducing flooding and other erosion related hazards the communities face but this problem may return due to indiscriminate dumping of refuse inside that drainage.
How dwellers abuse project
In March when this reporter visited the community, he witnessed several cases of refuse dump and defecation into the drainage.
This reporter witnessed, within the five hours spent, strolling by the drainage, two men stand on the concrete edge and defecate and a lady dump refuse into the drainage.
Concerned residents say that these hideous acts are very minimal during the day compared to nights when many abuse the drainage without caution.
Some passers-by were seen covering their noses to circumvent the stench that oozed from the drainage.
However, right beside it is a market where traders sell meats, fishes and their food stock in an open market. If not tackled, this practice could lead to contamination and outbreak of disease in the community.
The drainage, gulping N144 million in total was first nominated in 2016 and N44 million was budgeted for it. Another N100 million was budgeted for it in 2017. Details from the Accountant-General’s office show that Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs) for these years have been fully cash-backed.
Why residents dump refuse in drainage
Shehu Sabo, a resident of this community said residents have no other option than to dump into the drainage.
“After the drainage was constructed, the flooding reduced drastically. Had it been the government gave us a waste bin in this area, this drainage would have served its purpose. The residents had no place to dump their junk and that was why they resulted in dumping refuse inside it,” he said.
Mr Sabo complained that the contractor didn’t complete the work, which this reporter confirmed. This coupled with the blockage that follows indiscriminate refuse dump have made flooding persisted in the community.
Murtala Omotosho, who owns a tailoring shop beside the drainage also complained about the unavailability of public waste bins.
Muhammad Jamiu, a resident who lives on at the edge of where the contractor stopped the drainage said the problem of flooding, which the drainage came to quell still remain as his house gets flooded.
“The water used to enter our house. If you enter our compound, you will see refuse. That backyard, we youth used to pack it. Since when it has been done, all the refuse dumped by this community stays at our backyard.
“If our eyes see those that are dumping refuse beside us, what about those who are far from us. If they bring waste bin to this community, that is when it can solve the problem. But if the government brings a waste bin and people are still dumping inside it, we will know the next step to take,” he said.
A resident of this community who simply introduced herself as Iya Musbau also complained about how the flooding affects her and other residents.
“The water used to flow in this community before the residents started dumping refuse inside it. The refuse is obstructing the water to pass. They used to dump refuse from where the drainage begins. If the refuse is inside the drainage, the water will surely enter our house. The rain has moved the refuse to the front of our house,” she said.
Ibrahim Abdullahi disclosed that the drainage was well constructed but the refuse dumping by the residents worsened erosion and flooding ravaging the community. He stated further that the dumping of refuse and open defecation in the community exposed the residents to imminent diseases.
Most residents who spoke to this reporter did not own up to dumping into the drainage but they all complained that lack of alternatives made the problem persist.
Practice dangerous – expert
Gboyega Olorunfemi, a climate change expert said that dumping refuse inside the drainage will result in drainage blockage and the water will find it difficult to flow, noting that it will give way to flash floods.
“While the refuse is dumped there, it allows room for the emission of noxious gases which cause respiratory tract infections and also contribute to increases in greenhouse gasses. Open defecation will result in the transmission of infectious diseases threatening the health and hygiene and sanitation of the people and community,” he said.
He added that the effect of a polluted environment on the community ranges from social, health, to economic.
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