As contractor, govt bicker over payment

By Ike Uchechukwu

CALABAR — RESIDENTS, traders and commuters at Calabar, the Paradise City and capital of Cross River State, have complained bitterly about the awful stench emitting from the several refuse dumps in the metropolis.

Findings by NDV showed that countless streets and markets at Calabar have been overtaken by garbage because of the failure of contractors to evacuate trashes, which experts say, pose great health risks. Traders, who spoke to our reporter, said they could no longer bear the suffocating disgusting odor from refuse dumps, which they claimed has reduced patronage as a lot of people avoid their shops in the market.

Watt Market, Calabar, taken over by refuse

At the various locations and streets, including Watt market by Nelson Mandela, Goldie by Watt, Marian market by Ecobank, 8 Miles Market, Atamunu Street, Uwanse Street and Nelson Mandela, traders and residents decried the situation, saying it was unusual of a city like Calabar. One of the traders at Marian market, Mrs. Charity Ita, asserted: “We feel very bad that we can still experience this kind of situation again in Calabar, just look at the heap of rubbish in front of my space, why you still see people like this in this place is because of poverty, if not, a lot of people will not be here. The pollution caused by the refuse alone is capable of causing an epidemic like cholera and diarrhea.”

People already infected

“We are aware the governor had to give an order for part of Watt to be evacuated, must it always get to that point, and a lot of people have been infected already as a result of this menace. We love our governor but we need to also let him know that many of those contractors handling the job are not competent, our life is at risk and something,” she bemoaned.

A tomato seller, Mallam Bala Shuaibu, who has been in the market for more than 28 years, said: “I started coming to this market as a boy with my father who taught me this trade and we usually stay close to the refuse area so that we do not litter the market, but I have never witnessed anything like this before, the whole place is stinking and very soon there could be an outbreak of disease if nothing is done immediately.”

Eyesore: When NDV visited Goldie, by Atakpa (Watt Market), it was discovered that the heaps of refuse were reduced ostensibly because of Governor Ayade’s order, but it has started growing again while at Nelson Mandela, it was an eyesore. Residents at Atamunu, Uwanse, Bassey Duke, by Target and other places, also expressed concern at stinking garbage in their areas, blaming the state government for contracting the job to people without capacity.

Fire contractors — Angry resident: A resident at 2 Bassey Duke, Mr. Jeremiah Nfon, told NDV: “We know the government of Ayade means well but they do not know it all, sometimes, they take wrong decisions, I think the contractors should be fired and more competent ones hired.

“I learned they were asking for a raise without following due process, but apart from that, how efficient have they been, they should just quit because I do not think they can do the job effectively.”

Contractor demanding N10 million — Bisong

When contacted, the Special Adviser to Governor Ayade on Environment, Hon Joe Obi Bisong, asserted that there were challenges with the contractor handling market locations. He said: “We have an agreement to pay him N5.8 million to evacuate refuse from all eight market locations in Calabar and we have not failed in paying. Surprisingly, I got a letter on 30th dated 29th of April, 2017, stating that they will no longer collect the N5.8 m and demanded for N10 m , I mean it is not fair, that the reason why you see an upsurge of refuse in market locations.

“Without any other letter or prior notice , they just want government to cough out N10 million, at least there should be a form of communication and the discussion before they send such a letter to us and because of this, they have refused to honour our initial agreement, which is in place. “And there is a clause that says the payment should be quarterly which means we are not even owing them as it stands, their actions were carried out in bad faith,” he added.

Improvisation: Bisong stated: “We are proactive in our thinking just like Professor Ben Ayade is, so we have improvised for now in trying to use other alternatives to drive the process of refuse collection so as to maintain our clean and green status.”

Residents also create problem

He, however, wondered why many residents still pour waste on the ground when there were over 266 refuse bins in the city, saying: “When you see anyone going to dispose waste with a wheel barrow, that fellow is among the people that create problems for us, because they cannot lift the wheel barrow to empty the content, unless they are in bags and others follow suit, but as a government, we will continue to make sure that Calabar remains the cleanest and greenest city in Nigeria and beyond.”

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