Emma Elekwa, Onitsha
Residents of Onitsha and its environs in Anambra State have raised the alarm over impending epidemic outbreak following increasing presence refuse dumps in the area.
The development reportedly occasioned by suspension of services of waste evacuators known as Pay Direct Contractors in the state over unpaid wages had constituted health hazards to the people of the area.
Among the affected areas include Federal and Akpaka housing estates, Omagba phase 1 & 2, Oweleaja, Awada, Ozalla, Oduke and Odume/isiowulu in Obosi communities.
Others are Iyiukwu, Nkwelle Ezunaka, Ugwuagba, Abata Nsugbe, Okpoko, Amafor west, Iyiowa odakpe, Mkpikpa, Enekwasumpu and Akuzor Nkpor communities.
Speaking with newsmen on Saturday in Onitsha, a resident of Iyiukwu, Earnest Mbagwu who said they had lived with the refuse for over two weeks, described the odour from the stench as excruciating, calling for immediate intervention of relevant authorities.
He said, “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 wants it to be.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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,” he lamented.