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14 June 2015

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MOUNTING HEAPS OF REFUSE ON ROADSIDES AND STREETS: A LOOMING DISASTER IN OGUN STATE

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Ogun State Chapter condemns the abandonment of dumped garbage on roads and streets in major towns and cities in the state by the refuse collectors under the Ministry of Environment. The situation in Ijebu Ode, which has now become a huge refuse dump site, is particularly pathetic. Sadly, there seems to be complete absence of government in Ijebu Ode.

The SPN demands the immediate evacuation of the refuse within the state in general and from Ijebu Ode in particular. The state government, through the Ministry of Environment, must ensure as a matter of urgent public health importance, that solid waste is routinely evacuated and disposed properly by the waste collectors, in the least every week. We also warn that the government against imposing outrageous levies on the residents for regular waste collections and disposal.

The residents usually gather waste on every last Saturday of the month, as part of the environmental sanitation exercise enforced by the state government, and dump them at designated points on the roadsides and streets expecting their collection and disposal by the government garbage collectors.

But due to the dereliction of duty by the state government agencies, who don't show up for weeks, the heaps of waste have mounted. There are serious health concerns amongst the people. The mounting heaps of refuse on roadsides and streets obstruct easy follow of traffic. Now that the rains are here, the waste is blocking the drainages.

It is annoying and very disappointing that Ogun state government that generates billions of naira as internal revenues cannot carry out the simple duty of waste collections and disposal promptly and appropriately. Ordinarily, waste collections and disposal are part of duties the local governments are expected to do effectively. Unfortunately, the local government authorities across the country are now being rendered redundant by the various state governors. This is partly due to lack of financial autonomy as a result of by running of joint accounts with the state governments. This has given the various governors unrestricted and unlimited access to the finances of the local governments, they use at will, and most times for private enrichments.

The deductions of substantial parts of funds from the allocations of the local authorities by governors, now serve as excuse for the complete abdications of responsibilities by the local governments. These include amongst others: the collections of waste; building and maintenance of primary schools; maintenance and building of roads and drainages within the communities, lightning of streets, health and hygiene inspections, building of health centers, etc.

However, it is instructive to stress that despite the deductions from its allocations by the governors from the federal allocations, the local government authorities still generate revenues running into millions of naira every month.

These include levies and charges collected from the use of local government properties like motor parks and garages; rents from the allocations of shops, trading spaces, town halls and land; and permits issued for trading and hawking; licenses for various activities, etc. Yet the lack of democratic management and control of these finances means that rather than use these funds to meet public needs like the collections of waste, they end up in the private accounts of the local government officials.

This is why we of the SPN support the full autonomy for local governments across the states, we match it with the demand for the democratic control of the resources including finances by elected representatives workers and community people, who themselves are subject to recall by their electors. This is to ensure judicious and proper application of the resources and reduction of corrupt practices.

Eko John Nicholas
Secretary, SPN Ogun State