By Aniekan Ukpong
A clean and safe environment is essential in promoting good health, conducting businesses and creating wealth. In realization of this fact, governments at all levels and in different climes, have continued to provide the enabling environment and structures that ensure clean and safe environment for their citizens and residents.
Akwa Ibom has been adjudged the cleanest state in Nigeria over the last couple of years. This has been made possible through effective vegetation control, waste management and environmental protection programmes of Governor Emmanuel’s administration.
As Governor Emmanuel continues to actualize his vision of transforming the state into an industrial haven and a destination for investors and tourists, he has made concerted efforts to tackle holistically, the challenges of environmental protection and waste management in the state, making it clean, beautiful and safe as well as create enabling environment for residents and businesses to thrive. To achieve this, he put in place mechanism to ensure sustainable ways of managing wastes and ensuring a clean and green environment.
Conscious of the significant role of a clean and safe environment in an emerging industrial economy such as ours, and his avowed determination to ensure sustainable development through a safe, healthy and beautiful environment, Governor Emmanuel has continued to empower the state Environment Ministry to perform its statutory responsibilities.
To further underscore the importance his administration accords the issue of safe environment Governor Emmanuel has also re-energised and empowered the Akwa Ibom Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA) to drive his vision for the attainment of a clean environment, for the good health and well being of the people.
So far, the Ministry of Environment and the Akwa Ibom Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency have worked assiduously in collaboration to carry out their responsibilities with strong determination, particularly in the area of waste evacuation, daily sweeping of roads, desilting of drainages, banning of roadside trading and illegal structures in the capital city, vegetation control, among other things. Through the efforts of government, a healthy sanitation habit has been imbibed by the people in the state. This has been achieved through sustained campaign against filth and well coordinated monthly environmental sanitation exercise across the state.
Government has adopted a pragmatic vegetation management strategy that defines the best maintenance approach for achieving sustainable development through clean and safe environment. This approach consists not only of controlling vegetation through different methods such as mowing, brush cutting, cultivating desirable vegetation and re-vegetation, but also ridding the space of undesired plants and other vegetation for the attainment of environmental aesthetics that will attract investors and tourists to the state.
Today, through deliberate efforts of government, roadside markets and illegal structures along major roads in the capital city have been removed. The monthly sanitation exercise has been re-invigorated with Mobile Courts and a Task Force constituted to enforce compliance, while evacuation of refuse has been strengthened with the procurement of functional receptacles and waste disposal trucks.
Also, flooding in the capital city of Uyo, during rainy season has drastically reduced following a holistic desilting of drains/gutters, which has been the main reason the state capital suffered spate of flood cases in the past years.
Besides waste management, the state government has invested huge resources in erosion control and drainage channelization to ensure safety of lives and properties. This is evident in the area of road construction and erosion control projects, where well designed drains are top priority to check flood and its associated challenges. Among such is the Etim Okon Usanga – Anua erosion control project which is being executed in collaboration with NEWMAP.
In a bid to contain the spread of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and ensure a safe environment, the state government through AKSEPWMA has continued to decontaminate public places such as Victor Attah International Airport, Hospitals, Parks, Markets, Plazas and Hotels across the state. This is being executed in phases, with major cities like Uyo, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi already decontaminated.
Realizing that an unkempt environment has a huge potential to increase the risk of spreading the disease, it is heart warming to note that citizens and residents of Akwa Ibom State are unrelenting in maintaining the good personal and environmental hygiene for which the state is renowned.
The imperative of keeping the environment clean and safe cannot be over emphasized, especially as the state has become a destination of choice for investors and tourists from around the world.
Thus, Governor Udom Emmanuel deserves commendation for his efforts in ensuring that Akwa Ibom environment is clean and safe.