The city of waste – Livy-Elcon Emereonye

One of the attributes of a human being – a normal and rational human being – is cleanliness which due to its importance has been said to be next to godliness – the quality of being devoutly religious and pious emphasizing amongst others proper planning and time management.

Cleanliness is the state or quality of being clean and being kept clean. It has to be continuous and holistic to be impactful. To be clean is to be free from dirt, marks or stains. Cleanness is the state or quality of being gracefully forceful and simple. Cleanliness is the first condition for wellbeing and the primary factor for good health. By keeping body, mind, and soul clean it gives rise to a good character that guarantees a peaceful life style. To have, maintain and sustain cleanliness is an essential part of healthy living that we should embrace as it is the one major thing that helps to improve our personality by keeping us clean externally and internally with a lot of benefits.

A clean person exudes confidence. A clean mind radiates beauty. A clean conscience fears no fear because it is free from accusations. A clean environment is the primacy for good living that is necessary for good health – the indispensable wealth.

The import of cleanliness cannot be over emphasized as its absence can give room for ill health and other vices.

But despite the value of cleanliness, some people still derive joy from not being clean; instead they live like rats and swim as pigs with wastes, polluting everything and infecting others indiscriminately and the ripple effects are very expensive. A dirty lifestyle is a big obstacle to the attainment of public health. A dirty environment is the breeding site for disease causing organisms that infect and ravage human beings, making life miserable and painful. a sick person rarely thinks outside sickness.

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A waste can be any material, substance, or by-product eliminated or discarded by one person or group of persons as something that is no longer being useful or required after the completion of a process at a particular time and space. But it is indeed an irony that what is a waste to someone may be a treasure or raw material to another person even at the same time. This is one of the reasons there is so much wealth in waste when properly managed.

“Waste management (or waste disposal) includes the processes and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process and waste-related laws, technologies, and economic mechanisms. Waste can be solid, liquid, or gaseous and each type has different methods of disposal and management. Waste management deals with all types of waste, including industrial, biological, household, municipal, organic, biomedical, radioactive wastes. In some cases, waste can pose a threat to human health. Health issues are associated throughout the entire process of waste management. Health issues can also arise indirectly or directly. Directly, through the handling of solid waste, and indirectly through the consumption of water, soil and food.” (Wikipedia)

An efficient and effective waste management system should be an integral part of a responsible and responsive government because proper waste management is important for nation building but unfortunately this is not the case in some countries especially Nigeria.

Today, Nigeria is a classical case of a dirty country! From north to south, east to west, the story is the same. Almost every street is littered with wastes, and some people scavenge on them for a living. With a battered psyche and skewed mindset orchestrated by the frustration of bad government we live more like lower animals scattering wastes here and there with reckless abandon. It is so bad that some people defecate on the roads and even inside streams that serve as source of drinking water; the market place harbours all sorts of deadness and rottenness some of which are mischievously repackaged and sold to unsuspecting clients; people feed on dead animals and decayed food. Little wonder almost everyone is diseased and sick. The consequences of this can only be imagined.

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Those saddled with the responsibility of carrying and managing wastes like their counterparts in other agencies play dirty politics with their work in addition to other corrupt practices that are more like a religion to the people. They can stay for weeks without doing the work they are being paid for, and where they work, some of them are very rude and hostile, often transferring aggression. To show how ‘important and powerful’ they feel they are, they can block roads with their waste trucks, causing unnecessary traffic jams. Some of them have even emptied their trucks on the road, scattered the wastes and drove away. This is not only a fraud but a big crime against the state and humanity!

On the other hand, people discard and dispose of their wastes indiscriminately. The way, and manner, wastes are being dumped on the road is very disgusting. And it becomes more worrisome when people who cannot pay the least monthly waste bill and cannot make use of a simple waste basket will waste no time to scatter bags of their smelling wastes on the roads and streets. Even bags of expired drugs and other toxins are being dumped on the streets recklessly.

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Our culture of dirtiness can compare to none and it affects us negatively in one way or the other. The dangers of poorly managed waste on health are numerous and depend on the nature of the waste, individuals exposed, duration of exposure and availability of interventions for those exposed. We bear the consequences of suffering from all kinds of disease with poor life expectancy and high mortality rate. This must stop.

There is a need for an urgent and intensive waste management education that should be carried out in both the rural and urban areas using every available means of communication to inform the people of the need for proper waste management with emphasis on the dangers and consequences of dirtiness and poor waste disposal practices.

In fact, there are endless treasures in trash if and when properly managed. There is wealth, very huge wealth, in waste – and the experts here who are committed and dedicated to their work have made great fortunes. They are living testimonies of uncommon success stories. Apart from making money, they contributed immensely towards making the society, our environment and world clean and healthy.

It is high time our waste management authorities lived up to expectations. Any worker or organization that failed to live up to expectation should be relieved of his or their duty and contract. The monies generated through waste management should be accounted for and used judiciously towards making a better, healthy society. The bitter truth is that the benefit of proper waste management is huge and continuous.

What are your thoughts?

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