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Ibadan dirt and the futility of sanitation exercise

 

By Obinna Chukwuezie

A week ago, I read in the newspapers that Lagos state has banned sanitation exercise. As expected, the action elicited diverse reactions, even those who had never observed it lambasted the governor for scapping the exercise. Some felt that the governor’s action was long overdue.

Last Saturday, right in the streets of Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state and the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, the exercise happened. As it is often the case, vehicular movement were restricted from 7 to 9am, except for vehicles on essential duty, like medical, security and media personnel. It was expected that while the exercise lasted, citizens would tidy up their places of abode, livelihoods and environment in compliance with the state government’s directive.

Moving round the city synonymous with brown roofs and ‘Amala’, the roads were deserted. The citizens were seen in cluster discussing the current state of the nation and premiership and even the Ondo elections. Teenagers converted some of the deserted road, to soccer pitch. Not a single person is seen clearing the environment.

I stopped to ask one aged woman, near Iwo road, why no one seems to be doing anything about the ubiquitous dirty environment. She pointed to heaps of refuse by the middle of the road that they gathered for several weeks, and that the government has not evacuated them. I asked, “Do you have ministry of environment in Oyo state?” She answered, “efi wole” (leave them).

She told me that most people use the period to get some rest, after a busy week, and not sanitation exercise declared by government.

 

What can Oyo state do with their heaps of refuse?

I was in Ghana last February 2016, and I saw that some citizens from countries like Norway, Switzerland came there to buy garbage. I met a couple of them at Movempick hotel. They told me that they use it to generate electricity. I thought that the Oyo state could turn trash to wealth, if they take clue from Ghana. Afterall, they have enough of garbage.

If Oyo state must continue with the monthly ritual known as sanitation exercise, it needs to change the way it is done, else it will join the league of dirtiest cities in the world. Alternatively, they can go the way of Lagos in srapping the exercise.

 

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