Waiting Long For A Cleaner Makurdi

PHOTOS: MSUGH ITYOKURA

PHOTOS: MSUGH ITYOKURA

Mountain of refuse (left) and an untidy intersection in Makurdi

Mountain of refuse (left) and an untidy intersection in Makurdi

MAKURDI used to be cleaner and more beautiful, with sanitation workers helping to keep the place neat. But things have changed. Major roads, streets and drainages have become an eyesore. And in commercial areas, like High Level, Wadata, Wurukum and North Bank, it is obvious the state’s sanitation agency needs to wake up.

Even the area around the seat of power, Benue People’s House (formerly Government House), is not free from dirt. The Makurdi-Lafia-Abuja road (which starts from Wurukum roundabout) and Gboko and Otukpo roads, as well as the major road that leads to the state capital from the areas mentioned, have not being swept for over six months. Many places are littered with garbage, a situation compounded by sand and other wastes spewed out from flooded gutters.

For over six and 11 months, the past administration in the state failed to pay workers and pensioners, respectively, hence the abandonment of the job of cleaning the environment and consequent invasion by filth.

Also of concern are major towns of Gboko, Katsina Ala and Otukpo, which have not been cleaned in a very long time. Perhaps, worse affected is Otukpo, hometown of former Senate President, David Mark.

The General Manager of the State Environmental and Sanitation Agency, Ediga Akpa, told The Guardian before his sack on Tuesday that for a long time his workers had stopped coming to work because the state government owed them over six months salary.

One resident, Terhemen Mtom, said: “It is very unfortunate that when you come into a state capital, like Makurdi, you see all sorts of rubbish on main roads and streets. This shows the level of unseriousness of those in leadership positions. It is a pity that common payment of workers’ salary was difficult for the immediate past governor. But we hope that things would change now.”

Some streets in Makurdi, especially those in Wadata, High level and Idyeh areas have become nearly impassable, as a result of heaps of garbage. The drainages in Wadata, meanwhile, have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

A lecturer with the Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi, Dr. Chris Orngu, described the filth in the state capital as the fallout of “systematic failure”, even as he blamed the immediate past administration for the problem.

“It is not a good thing at all for someone to drive into town and see the entire environment so dirty, due to the refusal of those responsible to turn up for work because they have not been paid. It is, in fact, a thing of shame to those responsible. How can you explain this in an era where cleanliness has become a watchword?”

An environment expert, James Ugboh, said the situation is regrettable, and called on the new government to make new appointments and hit the ground running, so that matters of environmental health could be tackled immediately.

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