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Epidemic Looms In Abia! See What Is Happening NOW In Umuahia (Photos)

STEVE OKO captures the worrisome sanitary condition of Umuahia, the Abia State capital over the mounting refuse dumps around the metropolis as the Abia State Environmental Sanitation Agency (ASEPA) appears overwhelmed.
The few refuse dumps were overflown with wastes, and it is indeed not a good sight especially for visitors as the ‘riot­ing’ refuse dumps give bad impres­sion of the The worst hit include the refuse dumps on Umuwaya Road, about 500 meters before the famous Abia Mall ( Shoprite plaza), Niger Road by St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, and the one on the Olokoro / Old Timber Road.
The situation is very nauseating and pose grave health hazards to residents and passers-bye while movement around the sites have become very cumbersome follow­ing occasional traffic gridlock. The odious stench emanating from the dumps could lead to outbreak of epidemics especially now rodents and other creatures have made the dumps their home.
The constant sooty smokes ema­nating from the dumps as people set them on fire apparently to de­congest them , also pose serious health risk to residents.
Worried by the situation, Meth­odist Church women , World Bank Circuit Umuahia Diocese, recently volunteered to help clean up the mess around Isigate area of the metropolis.
President, Mrs. Rejoice Okocha , in a brief interview, said they em­barked on the project as part of their contribution to keep the city clean.
Her words: “ Isigate is the heart of Umuahia, and the sight here is not a good one ; that is why we de­cided to help keep it clean. It is an eyesore when you enter a city and the first thing you see is a dirty en­vironment .
“In other states what you see is a clean environment. So, we decided to help clean up this area as part of activities marking our Mothering Sunday”, she said.
Meanwhile, residents have continued to decry the current sanitary condition of Umuahia describing it as the worst since the creation of Abia State.
They heap the blame at the doorsteps of the Abia State Envi­ronmental Protection Agency ( ASEPA) which obviously appears overwhelmed and helpless over the situation.
The agency hardly carts away refuse from the metropolis these days instead, some persons set the refuse bins on fire thus exposing residents to more health risks as­sociated with fumes.
A concerned resident who did not want his name mentioned said: “ We are talking of menin­gitis every where and the whole state capital is being taken over by refuse. If the ASEPA GM can no longer handle it he should tell Abians what his handicaps are. Is it that government is no longer fund­ing ASEPA or what?
“ Why should Umuahia previ­ously reputed for neatness sudden­ly become a dirty city? This is not good for the image of state capital. They are exposing residents to danger. It is appalling that people after maintaining personal hygiene in their homes will be exposed to disease when they come out.
“ Government should do some­thing. If they can no longer em­power ASEPA to cart away refuse they should devolve power so that local governments can take over the responsibility.
“ You can imagine the type of air worshipers at St. Stephens’ Angli­can church Umuahia will be inhal­ing with that mountain of refuse at their gate. It is too bad !
“ The bulk stops at the governor’s table. He should rise up to the occa­sion and clean up Umuahia before it is taken over by refuse. About six compactor trucks are packed at Government House since last year. They should be deployed to use to help ease off the situation.”
Worried by the ugly develop­ment, the Abia State House of As­sembly has summoned the ASEPA boss, Mr. Iyke Apugo to appear be­fore it for explanations.
But when contacted, the ASEPA GM, Apugo said that his agency was making spirited efforts to ad­dress the situation, adding that he has been in touch with the Gover­nor who assured him of full sup­port.
But another source close to ASEPA confided in The AU­THORITY that the agency “ is being starved of funds”, hence its inability to live up to its responsi­bilities.
“ Funds are no longer coming as usual. Right now ASEPA is owed two months. There are no recep­tacles, no vehicles”, the source grumbled.
But some revenue collection agents claiming to be working for ASEPA have been forcefully col­lecting N1500 from traders in Umuahia for 20 pieces of cello­phane waste disposal bag.
Despite denials from ASEPA of sending such agents, residents still wonder how they have continued to operate without restraint more so when the bags have government and ASEPA logos conspicuously displayed on them.
There have also been some po­litical interpretations in some quarters on the action of some philanthropists who usually claim to be friends of the government oc­casionally sponsoring the carting away of refuses in the state capital.
The question agitating many minds is ‘ why should individuals have the financial capacity to un­dertake tasks state agency find too hard to handle?’
Analysts suspect that such ges­tures have political undertone or could they be a strategy to under­mine the efforts of ASEPA and project it as a dull agency?
Meanwhile, expectations had been high that Umuahia would be the cleanest state under the watch of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, who un­til his emergence as the Governor was ASEPA Chairman.

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