Ecosystem

Taking Advantage Of Owerri’s Slacking Waste Management – An Innovative Story

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

I was born and have lived my whole life in Lagos, Nigeria where trash management by the state government could be considered as OK. When your trash gets filled, the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) comes to your home, mostly on weekends to pick them or you take them out to a junction where it can also be picked by the always on site street cleaners.

Although, the Ambode’s administration did thwart this system but for eleven years, the door to door collection was just enough to earn Lagos a spot among the cleanest state in Nigeria.

I moved to Owerri, Imo state in 2015 for school and so far what I’ve experienced is a state’s livable condition been threatened by ineffective management of its waste.

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I live in Ihiagwa, a small town located 12km south of the capital city of Owerri and also where the Federal University of Technology, Owerri(FUTO) is located. The state’s body for waste management(if there’s any) has never set feet in this town, so each time my trash gets filled – i dumped them by the roadside. This is the situation for thousands of students and indigenes who have taken up residence here.

What’s wrong?

A dumpsite along Ihiagwa-Nekede road. Photo by Charles Ochei / 4kreport

Dumping of solid wastes along the roadside is wrong, burning them could kill you and yet we do it every weekend. The danger of this is that; engaging in this inappropriate act threatens our health and the ease of commuting in this town but who cares?, since the Government won’t come to pick our trash, we can’t keep piling them in our homes so we dump them in the streets but at a cost.

Some waste dumped along the roadside will eventually rot and will give out ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. short term exposure to these gases causes coughing, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and breathing difficulties. After a few engagements with residents, thick bushes seem to be the strong second place for dumping wastes, this attracts wild animals carrying disease harmful to crops and animal farms closely located to bushy areas.

Living here[ihiagwa], you likely would’ve experienced how hard it has relatively become to commute to town or around, it’s a journey of you sitting in a really uncomfortable bus, moving along the poorest quality of roads and as if this isn’t frustrating enough, wastes dumped along the road takes a chunk amount of space making the road look tiny and however, vulnerable to flooding during raining season.

Owerri’s Situation

A pile of waste along Douglas Market. Photo by Charles Ochei / 4kreport

Doing a simple search on Google about the cleanest cities in Nigeria, Owerri has a spot on every list i stumbled upon. Owerri top some lists as high as the number one spot and never goes below the top five. Sadly, if each listicle were to be reproduced today, Owerri might, however, not be amongst the top five.

“These days the Government people come anytime they like to clear out the trash, sometimes it could be once in two weeks or once a month, on like before when they cleared them every morning” Ikechukwu, a dealer in electronic materials for six years at Douglas market laments.

The Government claimed it wanted to start reconstruction of the Douglas market, therefore, demolished buildings housing shops containing goods worth millions of naira and with the aid of the military, forcefully chased business owners out of their marketplace. For the few pig-headed left, abandoning waste and leaving them[pig-headed traders] to suffer from road blockage and rotten smell from trash would make them leave; thinks the Government.

Bank road, Control and world bank area seem to have their trash managed above average. In these areas, what houses, shops, offices and market wo(men) had to do was to pile up their trash along the roadside or at a dump site then see it get pick by the “Truck Men” every morning. But a lot of people still feels Owerri was cleaner under the Ohakim’s Government compared to Rochas’s Government and is not amongst the cleanest states in Nigeria.

Unlike LAWMA in Lagos, these “Truck Men” without a uniform could not be identified, additionally making it harder to know were trash are been disposed of after collection.

What’s being done about it?

A band of entrepreneurs are trying to take advantage of Owerri’s slacking waste Mangement. Chinenye Oguadinma, Victor Onwuelu and Emmanuel Ogieriakhi are building FuturCycle, a recycling company that collects recyclable waste and turns them into reusable quality products.

An interesting ingredient about FuturCycle is the idea of an MVP to produce interlocking tiles from recycled plastic; an idea that paved way for the team to emerge as the winner of the Federal University of Tech, Owerri’s Hult prize challenge and are currently been incubated at the Heartland Incubation Hub.

A list, the list of countries with the most deficit power supply in the world, Nigeria ranked second after Yemen in 2017. Chibunna Ogbonna, 22, has been making efforts to the get -the 80 million plus Nigerians and the over 500 millions Africans without electricity- hooked to a renewable energy supply grid by recycling electronic components.

“We have started making Inverters from renewable materials gotten from recycled and low-cost electronic components for a start. We have greater plans already on the ground as we Continue to grow.” – Chibunna Ogbonna.

His company, RenewCykle, fabricates power inverters and power kits from 90% recycled materials for Students, SMEs, households and institutions to cut energy cost, promote smart energy economy and environmental sustainability in Nigeria and beyond starting from Owerri.

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