By Blessing Nnabuife
WITH the coming of the administration led by Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, who has stated clearly that achieving a clean, livable and prosperous Anambra is one of his priority, it becomes clear that the state is moving from being occupied by heaps of waste along the roads and streets to becoming a state to reckon with in cleanliness through various environmental intervention programs the administration has already embarked on.
Soludo has since inception of his administration, shown keen interest in the environmental condition of the state; imbibing on the ideology of cleanliness being next to Godliness, and adopting the modern ways of waste management.
The governor had intervened on series of environmental challenges facing the state including building on drainage channels, indiscriminate dumping of refuse, flooding, gully erosion menace on evacuation of wastes, deforestation, among others.
He recently embarked massive demolition of structures blocking water ways in Onitsha, while such buildings in Nnewi, Awka and other areas have been marked for demolition.
Lack of political will by past administrations to stop election of such buildings and demolish the already existing structures over the years has caused havoc in the state over the years as many lives have been lost,and properties worth millions destroyed by erosion gullies or flood due to the inability of flood waters to move freely through drainages as a result of obstruction by the structures.
Solid waste management over the years has been one of the most pressing environmental challenges faced by the state government in which past administrations played their part in tackling the issue but on the long run, the situation remained the same.
But immediately he assumed office, Gov. Soludo embarked on Operation Keep Your Environment Clean where he marked Onitsha North and South, Ogbaru, and Idemili North for massive and intensive waste evacuation and drainage desilting sanitation exercises, with the aim of encouraging cleanliness and healthy environment across the state.
Anambra State Deputy Governor, Onyekachukwu Ibezim, who is in charge of the sanitation exercise, emphasised that the wastes evacuated from the areas which were taken directly to dump sites as the Soludo administration has already concluded arrangements to convert them into landfills, where the wastes will be used to create wealth for the state, which means a plus to the state economy.
He also disclosed that the state government has abolished poor waste disposal and collections of waste, and introduced door to door stationing of waste-bins for easy evacuation of wastes, warning that the state government is out to sanction defaulters of the waste management law.
During this year’s “World Environment Day”, with the theme: “Only One Earth”, Prof Soludo, after flagging off over one million tree planting project in the state, maintained that with planting of the trees and grasses, the fight against erosion and other environmental menace would be won.
Governor Soludo also flagged of Renewed Monthly Sanitation Exercise, urging ndi Anambra to imbibe the habit of clearing up their environment including the drainage systems in front of their residents to help achieve cleaner, greener and healthier state.
The governor recently announced commencement of implementation of Anti-Open Grazing Law , saying that because his administration launched initiatives to encourage tree planting, there is not enough land to accommodate open grazing and also pointed out that the initiative was geared towards salvaging the Anambra environment from erosion which is fast depleting the scarce land. He advised cattle rearers to start considering gradual implementation of ranching as a modern way of cattle rearing because of its numerous advantages and money-making potentials.
The government introduced new housing policy, which the Commissioner of Housing, Paully Onyeka, disclosed during one of their visits to an estate. According to the commissioner, a building will not occupy 65 per cent of the total compound because some basic requirements are needed to been seen which includes that a compound or estate must have green veggies, flowers and tree planting for oxygen, catchment pits for erosion control. This is an indication that the state is fighting environmental menace in all directions.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Anambra State Wastes Management Agency (ASWAMA), Mike Ozoemena, in an interview said that although the present administration inherited a dirty environment from the out-gone government, resulting in littering of major cities in the state, including Onitsha, Awka, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and their neighbouring communities with wastes of many months, the fear of offensive odour emanating from the dumpsites and a outbreak of diseases from the decomposing wastes are a thing of the past as government is out to ensure effective enforcement of monthly sanitation exercise.
To actualise prompt and effective clearance of drains, as well as collection and evacuation of household wastes, he noted that government has engaged 31 contractors in wastes management in the state to ensure actualisation of the expected Smart Mega City, aimed at turning Anambra into an ‘A’ state.