Health

Onitsha residents decry non-evacuation of refuse, fear disease outbreak

* Pay Direct Contractors' strike enters two weeks

From IFEOMA OKAFOR, Awka

Residents of Onitsha have decried the increased pollution of air in the commercial city, no thanks to non-disposal of refuse by waste excavators for over two weeks now.

A resident of Iyiukwu, one of the neighbourhoods in the city, Mr Ernest Mbagwu lamented, in a chat with AbeyaNews, that residents had lived with the refuse for over two weeks, describing the stench from the garbage as excruciating and urging the relevant authorities to intervene immediately.

“Before, the refuse dump used to be along the expressway until it was brought here. We agitated against the relocation but they insisted it was where the governmemt wanted it to be,” he said.

“They had promised to be evacuating the refuse three times a week. But for the past two weeks, the thing has been there. The type of odour oozing out from the dump site is capable of causing epidemic if care is not taken.

“Many of the buildings here are housing nursing mothers, pregnant women, children and aged parents, some of who are sick. My wife just came back from the hospital. No one can say for sure whether it’s the effect of the stench.

“We’re calling on the relevant agencies to come and evacuate the refuse so we can breath some fresh air,” Mbagwu pleaded.

AbeyaNews recalls that the development was occasioned by the suspension of services of waste evacuators known as Pay Direct Contractors in the state over unpaid commissions.

A landlord in Ozalla Obosi area, Mike Aloka said they had been disposing the waste and collecting the money from residents before they were asked to stop.

He said: “We’ve been evacuating waste for over six months. We asked them to pay us for the ones so far evacuated, they refused, and at the same time don’t want us to collect money.

“We’re waiting for them to pay us for the ones we’ve done so we can continue. It’s only one week and the entire environment is littered with refuse. You can imagine what will happen if it lingers.”

Another resident, Prince Odinaka Chikwelu, Chief Security Officer of the area, said they planned contributing money to evacuate the refuse, but warned they would not allow further dumping of the refuse in the area.

Areas affected by the refuse dump include Federal and Akpaka Housing Estates, Omagba Phase 1 & 2, Oweleaja, Ozalla, Awada, Odume/isiowulu in Obosi communities and Oduke.

Others are Nkwelle Ezunaka Iyiukwu, Ugwuagba, Okpoko, Abata Nsugbe, Amafor west, Iyiowa, Akuzor Nkpor communities, odakpe, Mkpikpa, and Enekwasumpu.

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