Lokoja, Taken Over By Refuse
okoja, the capital of Kogi State prides itself as the fastest growing city in the country. Its geographical location as the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue made the city a point of attraction to tourists. Lokoja was once the capital of Northern Nigeria. Some people found a safe haven in the city because of the relative calm that pervaded the area for many years.
However, the influx of the people to the ancient city which supposed to be a blessing has turned out to be something akin to a curse. This is because the population explosion has overstressed the infrastructural and environmental facilities, resulting in the poor refuse disposal and management. This has created environmental hazards, which have dogged successive governments in the state.
Sometime, the ministry of environment and physical development created many dumping sites, where wastes could be dropped for the officials of the environmental sanitation department to evacuate for final treatment. But the dumping sites solution could not solve the problem. Most sites later became an eye sore due to the lukewarm attitude of the officials of department to clear the wastes at the stipulated period. It was alleged that the agency in charge of waste clearing posted most of their workers out of the capital city because some of them were relatives of the directors of the organisation, who preferred to operate from the country sides rather than the capital city. A director in the agency, who craved anonymity however, debunked the claim, saying that most of the workers were laid off during the staff audit conducted by the immediate past administration in the state. The exercise was conducted by a private firm, Sally Tibbot. Since then, the department has not been allowed to engage new hands. Besides, the department lacks the necessary equipment that could execute the assignment effectively.
Heaps of refuse could be found near Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, secretariat; State Police Headquarters Road; Kogi Circle Area and other points in the city.
Suleiman Mohammed, the commissioner of environment and physical development, who appeared not happy at the inefficiency of the agency in handling the wastes, said his ministry would engage private company to assist in clearing the heaps of debris that had become part of the town. This was, however, not to be as the commissioner claimed that his recommendations were not approved by the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
The ministry of works, on its parts, directed kiosk owners and car wash operators along major roads and streets to relocate or face the consequences. Attempt to enforce the law was made but this fizzled out almost immediately.
The new governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada, at the inauguration of 22-member think-tank committee that he said would give a new look to Lokoja, promised to tackle the issue of waste disposal in the city.