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Sustaining ‘Operation Keep PH Clean’ Campaign – By Arnold A. Alalibo

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | August 14, 2016 – Barring unforeseen circumstances, residents of Port Harcourt will soon witness the return of the city to its former ‘Garden City’ status. Before his exit from office, the immediate past caretaker committee chairman of the Port Harcourt Local Government Council, Mr. Samuel Soni Ejekwu, began a campaign to restore the ancient city to its former position of being the cleanest city in Nigeria.
The current move to keep Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, clean is in line with the new Rivers State vision of the Governor Nyesom Wike administration to restore the ‘Garden City’ status of Port Harcourt through a pragmatic and people-oriented programme that will give sanctity to the environment.

During a campaign to kick-start the programme at Mile One area of Diobu in Port Harcourt, Ejekwu declared that the ‘Keep Port Harcourt Clean’ policy indicated the state government’s priority to address the poor sanitation predicament of the state capital.

“During our swearing-in in November, 2015, we were told by His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike, to quickly address the sanitation condition of our various local government areas as the people were now making mockery of the state, and particularly Port Harcourt, as the ‘garbage city’ instead of the ‘Garden City’ of Nigeria.

“This rally and the concerted implementation of the various policies to ensure good sanitary condition of the city, including the efforts of the state Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning to clear the streets of traders, filth and garbage are designed to restore the lost glory of Port Harcourt, and make living in the city worth the people’s investment,” the former mayor said.

He said that the rally was meant to create awareness of the importance of clean environment to the good health of the people and claimed that if the people respected the environment, they would not do things that undermined environmental sustainability, cause flooding by blocking the drains, and litter the streets carelessly.

The former PHALGA boss pointed out that the large turnout of the people at the rallies indicated the support of Rivers’ people to the policies and programmes of the Wike administration and added that “his policies are people-friendly and targeted towards the common man as his developmental strides are anchored on efforts to alleviate the suffering of the poor masses”.

But a trader, who lives in Port Harcourt, Mr. Hyginus Adolphus, expressed disappointment with the slow start of the campaign to keep Port Harcourt clean. He said he was yet to witness any strong attempt to rid Port Harcourt of its numerous garbage either by the local or state government.

“It is a good idea to clean Port Harcourt and I have been hearing that every time. But now as I speak to you is anything happening? Is this not the Port Harcourt with dirty everywhere? Where is the campaign or the cleaning going on now? This is what they say every time. See I lived here before the war and this town was not like this,” Adolphus recalled.

In his opinion, a retired educationist, Mr. Ignatius Lawson, bemoaned the sanitary state of Port Harcourt and pleaded with the government to do something about it. According to him, what was once known as ‘Garden City’ has now become ‘garbage city’. He said an attempt to clean the city would attract the cooperation of all residents if it was properly enforced.
“There are two things involved in keeping a big city like Port Harcourt clean. One is to actually keep the streets clean by providing street cleaners and refuse collection centers and trucks to evacuate accumulated refuse. The other is to sensitize the public and prevent them from littering refuse around.

“It is not enough to have waste bins. It is not enough to employ road sweepers. At this point it is necessary for the government to sponsor adverts on the electronic media to provide orientation to the public. Look, government has to be creative and back up their words with action. If there are sanitation laws in the state they have to be enforced,” he stated.
The retired principal advised both the state and local government to engage some idle unemployed youths to be involved in the campaign to keep Port Harcourt clean and be paid stipends. He said many youths would be willing to be part of the project as it was the case sometime ago when some young girls were engaged to clean the city. But he, however, regretted that the effort was not sustained.

A refuse disposal contractor, Mr. Lious Amadi, expressed displeasure at the way some people took the laws into their hands by perpetrating all sorts of sanitation offences in the state capital, despite efforts put in place by the government to rid Port Harcourt of refuse.
Amadi specifically condemned the attitude of some residents who have cultivated the negative attitude of dumping refuse indiscriminately in drainages and streets all over the city, especially at Miles One, Two and Three areas of Diobu and some parts of Borikiri and town areas.
He advised that for “Operation Keep Port Harcourt Clean” to be successful, the state and local governments must employ persons that would clean public buildings and playgrounds littered in the state. He also urged the government to come up with a policy or law on abandoned vehicles that abound in the city.

In his opinion, a legal practitioner, Barrister Elvis Tambou, asked the Port Harcourt Local Government Council to ensure that no waste was dumped into drainages so as to enable free flow of water and avoid flooding of the city. According to the lawyer, since environmental matters fall within the purview of local government councils, the Port Harcourt Council authorities should be up and doing.

Tambou said for “Operation Keep Port Harcourt Clean” to be successful, the challenges that impeded previous efforts to keep the “Garden City” clean must be overcome. One of such challenges, according to him, was the inability of the government to enforce sanitation laws to the letter. He said if laws that prescribed punishment for offenders were not implemented, such offenders would not be deterred.

“If the number of emergency campaigns to keep Port Harcourt clean is not accompanied with emergency campaigns on the enforcement of sanitation laws, the efforts of the local government would fail. Nobody is above the law. If the law is enforced across board, there would be compliance,” he said.

Continuing, Tambou enjoined the next caretaker committee chairman of Port Harcourt Council to actualize the goal of the campaign begun by the Ejekwu administration. He advised the new caretaker committee to take the campaigns to their logical conclusion. He also emphasized the need for Port Harcourt residents to cooperate with the government to keep the state capital clean always.

In his view, an environmentalist and managing director of Scientific Ideas, Port Harcourt, Mr. Adebisi Adeosun, advised the government to come up with some strategies to avert a situation where waste becomes uncontainable and spill into houses, industries, fields and water sources.
The strategies, according to him, include measures that would lead to the process of recycling. He said refuse should be collected, properly disposed off and recycled for economic gains and development.

That, for him, is the way to go in this era of technology. Adeosun emphasized that the current refuse disposal method in the state and elsewhere is outdated and needed modification.

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Posted by on Aug 14 2016. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, Rivers, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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