Abia, Waste Management – A call for real action

I have spent time, committed significant amounts of resources and energy and suffered personal humiliations in my efforts at understanding the ‘real’ issues with municipal solid waste management in Aba – my home city. I intend to make this article very short, so I will not dwell so much on the setbacks and challenges.

As a matter of respect, I will also not mention peoples’ names in this article. All I wish to achieve is show that I have the expertise and thus qualified to make contributions on the subject matter. I also wish to offer my expert services to my people at absolutely no costs. For more details about me and what I have done with respect to waste management in Aba, please read parts of my thesis titled “A POST-NORMAL SCIENCE APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING THE REAL ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND CONTEXTS OF MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE (MSW) MANAGEMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES – A CASE STUDY OF ABA-URBAN IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA” available here https://eresearch.qmu.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/20.500.12289/9828/9828.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Back to the object of this article then. I received with great joy, the decision of the state government to establish waste management authorities in multiple areas in the state, to tackle the menace of poor waste management that have bedevilled the state for decades. I pray this is just not another front-page hugging headline and photo opportunity that has become symbolic of Nigerian institutions. Again, I say this because of the experience I have had trying to make a difference in this sector.

I can say, without fear of favour and with no apologies to anyone, that the level of corruption, nepotism and inefficiency in the just disbanded waste management agency in Aba was mind boggling. I can also say without ambiguity that the main challenges militating against efficient waste management in Aba is not the unavailability of compactor trucks, refuse vehicles, payloaders, etc. as those in power will readily claim. Unfortunately, state governments in Nigeria (and many other African countries) have erroneously pursued what I call ‘a modernisation approach’ where they spend significant sums of funds on importing ‘sophisticated’ refuse management vehicles that are not suitable for our waste types, road conditions and terrain. We seldom do not also have the expertise to maintain these vehicles. Consequently, as is the case with Abia, these vehicles break down long before the states finish paying off the debts accruing from such transactions. When you visit ASEPA operations HQ along Ikot Ekpene Road, you will understand what I mean.

I suggest, based on the findings from my lengthy research exercise in Aba, that we pursue what I call ‘a political economy appraisal’ approach. This involves taking a wholistic appraisal of all the factors inherent in our MSW management system and tailoring a solution that is suited to our situation and resources. We should not borrow money to run our waste management system and we should not accrue debts either.

I can go on and on, but the attached thesis is succinct and written in very simple English. It contains excerpts of conversations with residents of Aba, their views and suggestions. There is also a summary of possible actions that could be taken to drive the city towards a sustainable MSW management system. The conclusions are drawn from the interactions with all relevant stakeholders and tailored to local conditions and resources available.

Again, I am committed to ensuring a cleaner and safer Aba. I do not seek financial gains, neither do I want a political appointment. I do not even want recognition for any inputs I may make. I just want a local environment that we all can proudly identify with.

Long live Abians!

For more details and contact please visit www.waste.org.ng

Thank you.