Saturday, 16 July 2016

How Tipper Drivers, others Litter Anambra State with Debris—ASWAMA boss

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Philip Chinwuba (Esq.) is the Managing Director, Anambra State Waste Management Authority (ASWAMA), an agency charged with the responsibility of collecting and managing waste in the state. In this interview with the MD/CEO,, Comrade Okechukwu Onuegbu, the ASWAMA boss attributed the causes of indiscriminate dumping of waste in the state to Tipper Drivers, unlicensed waste collectors, and so on. He also disclosed the agency’s plans with the state government to fully commence conversion of waste to wealth. Excerpt:

How the ASWAMA Collect Waste
 We use modern equipments such as compactors and skip-loader. We have two different types of waste bins; the medium size which the compactor picks-up and put into the compacting machine, and very large one we usually installed along the street or market place so that people can dispose their waste in. Also, every compactor have waste disposers, I mean the people doing actual work. We work from 6AM to 7Pm daily including on Sunday, Christmas and New Year. We don’t go for holiday or break.
And when we collect these, we dispose them at our general dumpsite at Awka. The process is the same at other places in the state. The little difference however is that ASWAMA does it alone in Awka, while the state government contracted Public Private Partnership (PPP) contractors to collect dispose waste generated by residents of Onitsha and Nnewi and their environs and dispose them at our designated dumpsites at Owerri Road Onitsha, Nkwelle-Ezunaka, Nnewi, Ihiala and others.

Why there are still indiscriminate wastes in the state

The issue of Illegal dumpsite is a big challenge to us and other refuse collectors. We have designated places where people can dump their bag of refuse. But some people chose to dump their refuse anywhere. We are tackling this anomaly head on. And we always take action each time we discovered that. You know we cannot be everywhere. We are still doing public enlightenment campaign to that effect.
Another source of illegal dumping of refuse is some tipper drivers working with construction companies and excavation sites. While trying to move away debris they often dump them anywhere closer to them. That is why you sometimes see debris kept along the road, street, etc.
Other sources are unlicensed illegal private refuse collectors and some individuals. Aswama law allows individuals and private companies to apply for license to be collecting and disposing wastes. Those we licensed work in accordance to our law, while the unlicensed do as it pleased them.
Our enforcement teams and Ocha brigade are equal to the task. We are working assiduously to apprehend and prosecute those behind the anomaly. There is a strict penalty for any person caught on the act.
That is why we are appealing to our people to properly bag their waste before disposing them into the designated waste bins. This will help to ensuring clean and healthy Anambra.

The medium through which ASWAMA enlightening the public against indiscriminate dumping

We use electronic and print media, town criers, public address system being mounted on our vehicles, church bulleting, and jingles.

Modalities to be adopted in punishing indiscriminate refuse dumpers

The state Government and the judicially has set up a functional mobile court where we could prosecute illegal dumping cases and the related matters. It is functional. But we the ASWAMA and other refuse collectors have decided to infuse more life into it. That is why it is currently passing through some processes to make it standard for optimum service delivery. Once we complete that, we will publicize it to notify people that it is operational. The mobile court would help to stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse and lawlessness.

How ASWAMA Manage Wastes

The state government is working round the clock to see us recycling waste and possible converting them into wealth and energy. This is because waste produces electricity, cooking gas, manure and others. Presently, our compose manure processing machine is operative in Okpuno, Awka South Local Government Area. We are recycling compose manure from the refuse dump. But it is in little quantity. Very soon they shall be available in commercial quantities for onward distribution to farmers for use in place of fertilizer, as well as exportation to other countries. The state government is working to procure more recycling facilities. 
Also, our governor has attracted so many investors, who had signed MoUs with the state government to that effect. These include both foreign and local base partners. They have gone through our dumpsites and confirmed that we have enough to partner with. As soon as these companies start working, debris would no longer be in our sight.

Why are their some people living inside Onitsha dumpsite?

Those people you see there are called resource persons. But others may call them scavengers. What they do there is to gather recycling materials such as plastic, iron and others, and sell them to refuse conversion companies using them for manufacturing of polythene bags, plastic rubbers, and so on. There are markets for these items. The companies coming here would also use these recyclable materials when they finally settle down. So, what you see at Onista is the same thing you will see at dumpsite in Nnewi, Ihiala and others.

Do the resource persons receive remuneration from the government or they pay licensing fees to the government?

The resource persons don’t pay us. And we don’t pay them as well. We see it as means of employment. All we do is that we insist that they must be well kitted with their masks, booths, hand glove, apron and others for diseases control. Anyone caught without these are usually banned. It is for their health.

Do you charge illegal dumpers?
No. we don’t charge people. But according to ASWAMA Law, all refuse collectors must be licensed by us and charged to be paying specific amount as a license fee. After that we shall get to find the illegal dumpers. They should tell us if anyone is charging them. Government is paying those managing the dumpsites. So, we don’t charge anybody.

How can you react to an allegation that your agents multi tax Marketers and petty traders in the ASWAMA Levy?

Government has appointed people to be collecting sanitation levies from Okada riders, and so on. These agents collect the levies and remit them to the government. The greatest challenge here is that touts have ventured into it as it is tenable in other places in this country. (Displaying an illegal receipt collected from the illegal touts) these are examples of what I am telling you. What we are doing is public enlightenment campaign, and using Ocha Brigade, law enforcement agents and our won enforcement teams to arrest and prosecute the miscreants. All sort of illegal collection ongoing in the name of ASWAMA will soon be nip to the bud.

Is ASWAMA functional everywhere?

It is functional everywhere but not as the public might expect. There is plan to extend them to the hinterland. The government has also instituted a price for the most cleaning local government areas. We are holding our meeting with the frontline local government areas on the contest. They include the major towns in the state such as Awka and its environs, Nnewi and environs, Onitsha and environs, Anambra East and environs, Aguata, Oko and Ihiala, Idemili north and environs. We hope to achieve this between now and end of August. From there we will cover the whole Anambra state.
The modalities we use for charging sanitation levies are as stipulated in ASWAMA Law. We don’t charge more than as approved by the state legislators. We use POS.
I charge the Anambrarians to help the government by paying their sanitation levy. Although it is not enough, they are augmenting what the governor is using in paying our salaries and other expenses.
Again, I am appealing to them to dispose their waste properly at appropriate places we designed for them. By next month, we shall the populace what we termed ASWAMA degradable refuse bag. These are the bag that would degrade with waste in six months. Governor has approved it and the production is ongoing.



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