Nigeria: Residents at the Mercy of Flooding in Kano Over Poor Refuse Disposal

The indiscriminate dumping of refuse on major roads and drainages by Kano residents has heightened the fear of flooding in the state, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

Many of the residents, especially those within the city area living or working near main roads, have been observed to dump wastes on the roads, and the wastes gradually find their way into major drainages along the streets, thereby preventing the free flow of water which leads to flooding.

Kano city has been facing flooding every year during the rainy season as a result of the failure to clear the smaller and major drainages within residential and market areas. The most affected areas are the largest drainages which include the popular Baban-Gwari roundabout, Jakara Stream, and some other channels linked to the main drainages in the state.

Recently, the state government through the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the State Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (Kano-NEWMAP) embarked on desilting of major and minor drainages within and around the state capital. According to Maryam Abdulkadir, Communications Officer of the NEWMAP, they have cleared 33.6 kilometres of drainages within 20 days of the annual drainages’ clearance exercise.

However, during the first and second heavy rains in the state, many of the major roads were flooded, obstructing traffic flow and leaving people stranded for hours. This is despite the clearance exercise which focused on the major drainages.

“We thought there will be changes this time around as the government had cleared the drainage and made some repairs of waterways at the roundabout. But surprisingly it has not changed. This is a serious challenge we are witnessing every year. It is affecting our businesses,” Malami Usman, who owns a business around the Baban Gwari roundabout, told our reporter.

He said the state government has been doing its best every year, but “it is left for the people to know where to dump refuse otherwise nothing will change. The government too should adopt one solvable approach that will end the problem, not just to be working and spending money every year.”

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that notable places and major roads that are observed to have been turned into dumping sites are Sabongari residential and market (Yankura) areas, Singer market area, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Airport Road, Kurna, and Kofar Ruwa along Orthopaedic hospital, among other places. The bridges and underpass, built mainly to ease movement and beautify the city, were also not spared from indiscriminate dumping of wastes by the resident.

Speaking to our reporter, a tea seller at Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Jamilu Usman, said despite the lapses from the government in handling waste management in the state, residents’ attitude has also contributed a significant percentage in littering the state.

“I doubt if waste dumping is now the problem of government alone. We have seen that the residents are also contributing to that problem. I am a tea seller here and close to me is a dumping site that is approved by the government, but people will not comply with the order. They rather dump the refuse on the road, leaving the dump site empty. I don’t know the type of laziness or just bad attitude that will make someone bring dirt from his shop or house and instead of properly disposing of it, they will rather dump it on the road.”

According to him, scavengers also contribute to the problem by scattering the waste while looking for metals and rubber to earn a living from the dumped waste.

“If people dump their waste here, outside the dumping site, scavengers also spread it and litter the whole place which most times end up in the drainages and then lead to flooding. Whenever it is raining, this place is not accessible and people have to stay around in case there is a flood,” he narrated.

‘Dump sites along the road trigger the situation’

Daily Trust on Sunday also gathered that the approved dump sites situated close to the major roads have worsened the situation as waste ends up on the road, thereby affecting the look of the city, the health of people, causing pollution, aside blocking the drainages.

Shamsu Dan Aljannah of Kwari Textile market told Daily Trust on Sunday that in Kwari market, the dump site is in the middle of the main road and people dump refuse anyhow there.

“People here in the market claim to pay their waste removal fee to the local government and the market authority. So, they dump it anyhow. In fact, we have to pay errand boys to park it from our shops to this place,” Dan Aljannah said.

He said sometimes, people even dump waste at unauthorised places, claiming that government will come and remove it. This however blocks the drainages and cause flooding during the rainy season.

Many residents of Sabongari said they have cultivated the habit of dumping their wastes on the road because that is the only way they get the government’s attention.

“When the road becomes impassable due to the waste, you journalists will write about it and the government people will come and clear it. If not, they don’t come around to help us clear our wastes or drainages,” one of them, who refused to give his name, said.

But Daily Trust on Sunday observed that in most cases, when the drainages are cleared, mostly during the monthly sanitation day, the wastes evacuated from the drainages are not evacuated by the waste management firm on time and they end up in the drainages again.

Government policy not working

Similarly, it has been observed that the new policy of the state government to have handed over the waste management to a private firm was rated unsuccessful by some of the stakeholders in the state, which according to them led to problems.

They accused the state government of handing over the refuse management to the company mainly to run away from its responsibility.

A community leader, Dr. Bashir Salisu Bako said “The idea of handing over the waste management to a private firm is a good and welcome development, but that is if the system is fair and can perform better than the previous one. But in this case, our past system seems to be better than this. So, it is left for the government and the company to decide and work towards solving these problems. This is just few days in the rainy season, but go and check all the drainages, they are filled up.”

It has however been observed that there are challenges in the agreement between the government and Capegate (the company brought in to handle waste management in the state), which is said to have forced the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the firm, Bello Abba Yakasai, to quit recently.

In a recent interview with Daily Trust, Yakasai had explained that the recent setback was as a result of three major factors: the hike in the cost of diesel, lack of legal framework for the firm’s operation, which leads to third, residents’ refusal to pay for waste management services.

We are educating residents on indiscriminate refuse dumping – Govt

Reacting to the situation, the state commissioner of environment, Dr. Kabiru Ibrahim Getso, said they were working hard to ensure that there was no flooding in the state during this year’s rainy season.

He said apart from the drainage clearance, the state government has embarked on environmental education and awareness campaign to sensitize the general public against indiscriminate dumping of waste in places that may add to the chances of flood occurrence in the state.

He added that they will soon enact a law that will prosecute and punish anybody that is found in the habit of environmental-related offenses such as dumping waste indiscriminately, felling trees, and so on.

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