Workers and other persons doing business around Akwa Ibom State government house have expressed fear over a possible outbreak of epidemic as the dumpsite along Uyo village road emits offensive stench into the atmosphere.
Already it was reported that the yet to be overcome Covid-19 at some point affected no fewer than 100 persons within the Hilltop Mansion, a development many now attribute to the closeness of the dumpsite to Government House.
Located at a distance of about 200 meters from Government House, the dumpsite was relocated from the end of Udoh Street, where residents had vacated no fewer than 30 buildings in the surrounding due to cases of deaths reported of those whose residents were contiguous to the former dumpsite.
It could be elicited that the then relocation was triggered by the death of a woman who resided on Udoh street. Apparently the last victim, she died despite the intervention of the state government through the then Commissioner for Environment, Dr Iniobong Essien who not only bankrolled her medical treatment outside the country, but also facilitated a relocation plan for her on return. Notwithstanding this noble effort of government, she eventually died. Her death energised protest in the area warranting government to relocate the dumpsite to Uyo village road.
But unfortunately the new dump site which was initially declared temporary, having been used for over three years now, has continued to discharge stench into the Government House milsieu especially the Press Corps and the Governor’s lodge.
Other locations affected by this offensive odour are the Uyo Local Government Secretariat, Akwa Ibom State Judiciary, ‘A’ Division of the Area Command of the Nigeria Police, the new Traditional Rulers Complex, Health Center Uyo, Uyo Club, Governor’s office Annex, and other private buildings in the neighborhood.
Consequently, some businesses along Wellington Bassey Way have relocated to safer areas as dealers have continued to complain of low patronage.
It has also been observed as well that disposal trucks conveying refuse to the dumpsite have turned Wellington Bassey Way into waste dispensing area as they leave trails of refuse along the road which is a restricted area to certain categories of vehicles.
During the state’s anniversary celebration refuse trucks numbering about ten obstructed visitors coming into Government House as they packed at the globe by Dominic Utuk Street, a situation many considered embarrassing to have happen on such an auspicious day.
Reacting to this ugly situation, the State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Charles Udoh, admitted that government was aware of the situation and was working towards reversing it.
“We are aware of the issue and are working towards getting rid of it. We have an investor who is coming to convert the waste to power, so the stench we have there and everything will soon disappear. We just talked to the guys; it is Covid-19 that slowed us down”, he said.
Asked when the stench would leave Government House, he said, “Well, I cannot give you a timeline now, but we are in discussion with them. Rest assured that we are working towards it. It is not just moving the refuse from there because if we move from there we are going to dump it somewhere else and it’s going to create another problem. Rather we are looking at a way of managing the waste so that it would not be injurious to human health”.
At the dumpsite, one of the leaders of the scavengers, Edet Ekeng, said they are helping government to turn the waste into wealth by employing several people who were hitherto unemployed
He urged the state government to establish proper waste management plans as done in other states where they usually take their goods for sale.