Kaduna begins evacuation of wastes to prevent environmental hazard
A statement signed by the Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the Governor, Mallam Samuel Aruwan, said that the intervention programme to evacuate the waste littering the state “is designed to address the gaps in the waste collection process caused by the industrial strike embarked on by waste contractors,” adding that, “the sudden halt of waste collection by the contractors led to a pile-up of waste in several locations.”
The statement reads: “The emergency waste collection programme is covering all the areas that have been abandoned by the waste contractors. The programme is employing 6,600 youths to clean metropolitan Kaduna and other areas. This emergency intervention will continue for the next three months while processes for a new system of a waste collection are concluded.
“This intervention to remove municipal solid waste is designed as a community-based effort, employing youths from the communities to keep their neighbourhoods clean. The programme is expected to boost sanitation and simultaneously have an economic impact on the communities concerned.”
Meanwhile, United Nations (UN) agency, Joint United Nations Programmes on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has selected Kaduna as the best-performing state during the first phase of 2015 Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCH).
This was conveyed in a letter signed by the Country Director of UNAIDS, Dr Bilali Camara, to the state government.
The letter, which was addressed to Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai, stated that: “Kaduna State won the prize because during the MNCH week its hospitals counselled and tested 84,000 pregnant women for HIV during the period, and referred everyone that tested positive to a treatment facility.”
According to Aruwan, the government regrets the discomfort caused by the refuse pile-up and seeks the people’s support to ensure that the cleanup succeeds.
He added: “The previous waste collection contractors began their strike action on 20 October 2015. They based their action on the non-payment of their claims. At best, these claims constitute part of the inherited liabilities of the government. Like other claims for payment, they have to be subjected to verification of performance and accurate determination of payments due. But the contractors want speedy payment.
“They resorted to blackmail, hoping that the pile-up of refuse will make the government succumb to their claims. The government responded to this contract violation by commencing limited waste evacuation to manage the situation, while arranging for the more comprehensive intervention which has now started. The government is aware of the partisan affiliations of the waste contractors who owed their contracts to party patronage. But prudence with public resources must always triumph over blackmail.
“The waste collection contracts cost the state government N120 million monthly, with local councils paying additional N24 million monthly. The previous government further assisted the contractors with waste collection equipment, and they have not repaid up to 50 percent of the cost. The tricycles that were supplied have less than 30 percent repayment. Some of this equipment have disappeared, and the Ministry of Environment has been directed to retrieve all of them. The unpaid cost for equipment will be removed from whatever payments may eventually be adjudged valid.”
Camara said that the letter and the prize were to commend the success of the nationwide MNCH Week in Kaduna State.
UNAIDS also noted that the state advanced the objective to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
“UNAIDS, therefore, decided to recognise this achievement by pledging $14,000 to support Kaduna State in the next phase of the MNCH Week.”
In another development, the state’s healthcare system has received a boost from MTN Foundation, which has selected five state hospitals to benefit from its Maternity Ward Support Project (MWSP).
The beneficiary hospitals include Yusuf Dantsoho Hospital, Kaduna, General Hospital, Kafanchan, Jubrin Maigari Hospital, Birnin-Gwari, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba Hospital, Zaria and the Dabo Lere Memorial Hospital, Saminaka.