Calabar City…not a paradise of filth

Atamunu street by Nsasak, near Mayne Avenue, Calabar South on Tuesday (above); and St Mary Lane, off Ekpoabasi, Calabar South (below) PHOTO: ANIETIE AKPAN

Atamunu street by Nsasak, near Mayne Avenue, Calabar South on Tuesday (above); and St Mary Lane, off Ekpoabasi, Calabar South (below) PHOTO: ANIETIE AKPAN

Cross River State calls itself ‘The Nation’s Paradise’ Once the seat of government of the Niger Coast Protectorate, Southern Protectorate and Oil River Protectorate, its lighthouse, Calabar, was essentially the first Nigerian capital city. It is also home to the more recent and colourful Calabar Carnival.

But a disturbing trend is encroaching on the city. Mountains of filth seem to be threatening its paradisiacal reputation. Almost a year into the life of its new administration, the state is still struggling to win its battle against poor refuse management.

In many parts of Calabar, bins remain unattended for days. In some places, the heaps even contest space with the roads. The sight of uncollected plastic bags at roadsides and on medians has become the order of the day. And the longer it takes for men of the Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA) to come for them, the longer the stench and nuisance. This is common along Etagbo dual carriage way and many streets in Calabar.

When the Ben Ayade government came into power on May 29, 2015, efforts were made to address the problem. It appears, however, that much more needs to be done. First, the government cried that the volume of refuse in Calabar was too enormous for only two contractors to handle. It then introduced the use of bins. These receptacles were distributed to homes. The policy was later suspended. And some residents happily found new containers for storing water.

IMG-2The initial refuse contractors were sacked and CUDA, under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment, took over the business of refuse collection.

One unhappy resident at Federal Housing Estate, Mr. John Etim, expressed disappointment over refuse collection, saying: “The state government is overwhelmed. In the sixteen years since the exit of Governors Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke, Calabar has never been so dirty.” Etim blamed lack of focus, policy inconsistency and poor funding.

But reacting to the situation, the Executive Secretary of CUDA, Mr. Joe-Mary Ekeng, said: “There is no challenge; we are working. It’s just that we had some little issues with one or two vehicles. You know, these vehicles, we have them in designated areas; when they break down like that, you have to re-assign. We are redoubling our effort.”

On what could be done to complement the effort of CUDA, Ekeng said: “There is no problem. What has happened is like a car breaking down and you cannot meet up with your appointment. It’s either you take a bus and it might take you a longer time.”

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