Oyo State grapples with keeping Ibadan clean
One thing that Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State was noted for from time immemorial was its dirty state, due to its poor refuse management. The refuse was so overwhelming that the ancient city was labeled one of the dirtiest in Nigeria and Africa. Anywhere one turned to, expressways, major roads, feeder roads, residential areas were overrun with notorious heaps of refuse. It was so bad that the first thing to be noted by strangers on entering the city even at the major motor parks in tollgate, Iwo Road, and Ojoo were annoying stinking refuse.
However, the city enjoyed some respite from 2011 when Governor Abiola Ajimobi took over the administration of the state with a vow to remove the label of filth from the city and by extension the whole state. The vow appeared to be fulfilled during the first term of the administration but by the second term in 2015, the city started to slide back to its old state of filth. Markets, road sides, canals, expressways, residential areas and many other strategic locations in the city are overrun by heaps of refuse dumps.
Expressing dismay over this during one of the unscheduled inspections of Governor Ajimobi around the city, he said, “This is embarrassing. This government is known for its credentials in environmental cleanliness and urban renewal. We won’t allow anybody to dent such credentials. Everybody must work now. We are prepared to sanction people for inefficiency and services not required. The whole place is dirty. It’s a disgrace. From now on we will clean Oyo State again. We are educating and enlightening our people now. We are informing them on what to do, soliciting their support. We are going to engage more youths to enforce sanitation laws. We will fortify the environmental officers and bring in more people”.
In a bid to address the worrisome situation, the Ajimobi-led administration came up with various measures including strengthening of the Oyo State Management Authority, OYMA, to be able to carry out regular collection of refuse in some strategic places including markets, motor parks and expressway, some of the locations were provided with big refuse bins, introduction of refuse collectors Private Sector Participation, PSP, to service the residents of the city and imposition of penalty for those caught dumping refuse in public places. All these worked until the government decided to remove the refuse bins from the public places ordering that everyone in the state should patronize the PSP for the management of their waste. This order was flouted as residents continued dumping their refuse at the locations where the refuse bins have been removed and extended the dumping to other public places including the middle of the roads and medians.
With the failing of the residents to patronize the PSP under the management of OYMA, the government decided to outsource refuse management to a private foreign company, WestAfricaENRG, to help in finding a lasting solution to the refuse problem in the state. However, in spite of taking over the management of refuse in Ibadan since February 2016, and assiduously working round the clock as claimed, the refuse problem refuse to go away as the situation appears to be deteriorating. So, what exactly went wrong?
Our Focus is to collect and process waste in Ibadan
In a chat with TheNEWS, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO and Chief Operating Officer, COO, Mr. Paul O’Callaghan and Mrs. Lolade Oresanwo, bore their minds on their efforts and challenges in waste management in Oyo State:
Q: When did you take up this job?
A: West African Energy took over the management of OYMA in the middle of February 2016. It is about 11 months ago now.
Q: Are you in any other part of Nigeria?
A: We work throughout Nigeria. We have factory and processing solid waste in Lagos. We
process about 1500 tons of waste a day. What we do there is to take the valuable fraction from the waste such as metal, plastic, paper. The original goal of Oyo State is that we will come here and do a processing facility. When we arrived, we found out that the collection processing was inadequate. So, we have to get the collection process correct before we started processing. Largely, I think we have gotten the collection processing correctly. Now, we can go to the next step which is the processing of waste and converting it to a valuable resource, which is our main focus as a company.
Q: Can you quantify in percentage the level at which you have gotten the collection process correctly?
A: Probably between 60 and 70 percent. Our target is not less than 90 percent. What we inherited from OYMA was 409 registered PSP out of which 60 percent claimed to be working. When we carried out an audit on the trucks, the routes and so on, we found out that it is not more than 30 percent PSP that is working. We equally found out that the PSP was unwilling to work in some of the routes because the residents or the shops in the commercial premises were unwilling to pay the PSP for the services rendered. Rather than patronizing the PSP, they were putting their refuse at the centre median. So, we set out a programme of enlightment and enforcement to make sure that everybody partners with PSP. It takes a long time to change people’s attitude, but we’ll do that.
With enforcement from the government and directive from Olubadan, from February 1st, it is strict enforcement. Anybody caught dumping refuse in the centre median, from the market or commercial premises would be dealt with, arrested and charged to court. That way, they must pay the PSP. I want to say that bringing the waste to the median is about 30 percent of the problem, another 50 percent is people throwing away their waste or burning it. People throw away their waste in the gutters, when the rain comes, it washes away and like “Juju”, (charm), it disappears. It does not disappear but washed into the canal and block the free flow of the canal resulting into flooding and other problems. All that must stop.
This scenario happens everywhere including the areas that the rich are dwelling. So, we are challenging everybody from Jericho, Bodija, Beere and Oje. Everybody must pay for their waste collection. It is not a free service and it is not a social service. It is something that needs to be done. I want to liken the scenario to a house one lives. If my house is dirty, no one wants to come. Any visitor to Ibadan will tell intending visitors that they should not go to Ibadan because it is a dirty place. As a result, hotels will not have guests to patronize them and business will not come. Having said this I need to point it out that our vehicles are on the road 24 hours a day to clear garbage. What we notice is that there are specific times people bring out their waste and it is normally when it is dark. These people know they are doing what is wrong.
What journalists do is that they take pictures of dirty areas but will not go back about four hours later to take the pictures of the same places which would have been cleared by our men. It is very easy to take pictures of a dirty places but I think it is incumbent for the press to go back later to see whether the place is clean and like I said, four hours, if a reporter goes back, he will sees clean places. When I see pictures of dirty places, I can show you 10 pictures of the same areas clean. We have over 600 street sweepers now in Ibadan metropolis doing good jobs. Some of our workers are being attacked whenever they want to arrest people dumping refuse in the public places. People should appreciate our workers who are doing dirty, difficult and good jobs. Geographical coverage of PSP people is approximately about 80 percent and so people should patronize them.
Q: With your activities of almost one year, is it correct to say that today, Ibadan is clean?
A: I will not say that Ibadan is the dirtiest city in Nigeria. I am not going to name cities but there are other cities that are dirtier than Ibadan. I do not think Ibadan is clean. It is not clean. Some people say that Ibadan people need enlightenment, for me, no. They don’t need enlightenment to know that they shouldn’t throw their garbage where their children are playing, it is common sense. Bible doesn’t like uncleanness. People quote Bible for me and they don’t do what Bible says. For me, it is stubbornness. They don’t want to pay but they want to dump their refuse and this is where strict enforcement should come in. They have a choice to pay maybe N500 in a month to PSP, or they pay N30 to wheelbarrow pushers. Unfortunately, the state government can’t do what they were doing before because their allocation has been reduced. As people are not expecting to cook on the streets, so they should not dump refuse on the streets by law.
Q: What is the price like considering that this is a civil service state?
A: The price depends on your location. The people in Beere will not pay the same with people in Jericho and Bodija. I think while the people in Jericho should be able to afford N100 or N2000 per month, people in Beere should be able to afford between N100 and N300.
Q: Why the difference in pricing when they generate the same waste?
No, they don’t generate the same waste. The waste is determined by income level. Waste is a function of economic growth and capacity.
Q: But the PSP charges per drum. So why would the price of a drum in Beere be different from that of Bodija?
A: We want to abolish drum price to property price. If I have 10 property in one road, I must be charged 10 times. It comes to income category of that person. We classify it as high, medium, low, and very low. It is a natural fact that the people that are well off must subsidise the poor and that is what we are trying to do. Ibadan has about 3 million residents. I can tell you that only about 300,000 people are paying for waste collection, so the burden falls on the sate. The state can’t afford it due to the reasons I have highlighted before. The citizens of Ibadan must share from that burden.
Q: So you are saying that to have a clean Ibadan, people must be ready to sacrifice in terms of paying for the collection of their waste?
A: That is not sacrifice. If I throw my waste where my children are playing, they will get sick. I will have to take him to hospital to make him better and spend about N15, 000 or I can spend a small amount of money for my waste to be properly managed and prevent diseases. It is a human necessity to dispose your waste properly. If one lives in a dirty environment, he will have higher blood pressure.
Q: So how much do you expect people to pay?
A: It depends on the type of property. Let us take for instance, Beere, we have some property paying N100 per month and another pay N100 per week. We at the OYMA do not fix the price. We only recommend the price to the PSP saying this area, you can charge this. This allows for negotiation between PSP and property owners. There are some areas where N1,000 will be recommended and it will be found out that they can’t pay more than 800. Then, landlords can suggest N500 per property and guarantee everyone pays. There can be collective arrangement. Any disagreement over fee and service delivery between customers and PSP can be settled by us. What happens mostly is that we recommend between N300 and N400 per property.
Q: What is your target as regards when you will be able to make Ibadan clean?
A: From February 1st, enforcement of law regarding disposition of waste will take its full effect. It will take time to change things but I believe people will see a definite change from February 1st.
Q: How many jobs can your proposed plant create?
A: Easily it will create 5,000 jobs. As for residual waste which can’t be recycled, we will convert it to power, that power will generate 36 megawatt of electricity per hour. We can send it to the grid or sell it to individual users. We will also have organic waste to make organic fertilizer to improve agriculture. Our goal is zero waste in our society. We have started a recycle programme where people can subsidise their income by bringing recyclable materials to us, pure water nylon sachets, etc and we will pay them cash for that. Since we started, we have created about 300 jobs.
Q: How much will the plants cost you?
A: Several billions of naira.
Mrs Lolade, Chief Operating Officer, of West African Energy, also spoke:
Let me say something. I don’t want to agree that Ibadan is dirty. If you go round now you find out that Ibadan is clean. What we need to change is the attitude of our people. There is a notion that “Mi o le fi owo ra eko, ki n tun fi owo da ewe renu”, meaning, I cannot buy pap with my money and still use my money to dispose its wrapper. This needs to change. If people leave their houses, and take their refuse and put it in the median, the overall impression is that Ibadan is dirty. Though, what it says is that OYMA is not doing its job. The OYMA is not supposed to collect garbage from the median. The OYMA is only concerned with the regulation of the activities of the private refuse collectors. The private refuse collectors are the one that goes to each household as allocated to them by OYMA to say this is the route you are going to work and make sure that all the houses are subscribed to you.
If you have issues with enlightenment, the authority will assist you to sensitise the public to let them understand the needs to dispose their waste in an environmentally sustainable manner. As regards the expressway, which is a gateway to other cities and states, the government has deployed environmental officers to check the activities of the business and trailers operators that don’t care about the neatness of these areas. There are communities like Hausa and Igbo communities we need to engage and the Ministry of Environment is doing that. We had a meeting with Olubadan just to be sure that the information gets to the grassroots that it is good to patronize PSP.
It is interesting when you said that Oyo State is a civil service state. It doesn’t have to be a civil service state when we do the basic things we need to do. If investor is coming into the country and goes to a state, what he looks at is what the environment looks like. If we have a clean environment, the investor is already thinking this is good, my business partners can come. You open up a state to investment opportunities, this will create jobs and Oyo State moves from a civil service state to a real big industrialized state. We need to create an environment where companies will be fighting to come here. The expressway as I speak is clear. The message I want to send out is that people should abide with the law guiding the disposition of refuse in the state. Stop dumping your refuse in a public place and you will see a clean city.