One programme of government that may not easily erase from the minds of Nigerians is the War Against Indiscipline (WAI). Introduced in 1983 by the military regime of General Mohammadu Buhari and General Tunde Idiagbon, WAI became a success story as Nigerians from all strata welcomed the crusade with open arms because its application brought the desired change in their behavioral attitude.
WAI brought to the fore, the fact that Nigerians find it hard to obey simple rules except by the application of force. WAI instilled on the psyche of Nigerians, a culture of appropriateness!
The war succeeded because the military authorities were hard on rule breakers, to the extent that to throw dirt carelessly on the street drew the ire of the regime and often times attracted frog jumping under the scorching sun as punishment to an offender.
Sadly today, that celebrated culture has been swept into the waste bin of history. Now, WAI can only be gleaned from what happens in few banks when services are slow and disenchanted customers are left with no choice but to queue for their turns.
Indiscipline has generated an intractable problem of environmental sanitation with residents in Port Harcourt and its environs finding it convenient to dispose of their wastes indiscriminately, not taking into consideration the attendant health and aesthetic implications.
It is no longer uncommon to see or find huge piles of all manner of wastes dumped on the roadsides or in non-designated receptacles. But the crux of this editorial is the nonchalant attitude of residents in defacing the median of roads with refuse.
A drive along the Rumuokwuta-NTA-Ozuobu Road; Ada-George Road; Ikwerre Road and Rumuola Road, to mention but a few where medians are constructed to separate the dualized roads would reveal this ugly spectacle as heaps of refuse carelessly dot its surfaces.
These heaps of refuse, to say the least, significantly diminish the aesthetics of the median. For first time visitors to the Garden City, a drive through these roads would depict Port Harcourt as Garbage City! In addition, aside several health hazards, this indiscriminate dumping of wastes, especially on the median of roads surely puts the entire community at risk.
Unfortunately, this trend has continued on the rise and is increasingly becoming a big problem because it hinders the objective of keeping Port Harcourt clean and restoring it to its Garden City status.
The Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) has relentlessly appealed to residents and those doing business in the State to adhere to simple sanitation rules and to dump their wastes only at receptacles approved by the Agency.
The Sole Administrator of the Agency, Bro. Felix Obuah had on several fora stated that under the environmental protection law, illegal dumping is considered unlawful on the account of the harms it causes to the environment. A special Sanitation Court has been established by the Agency where sanitation offenders are prosecuted.
What is more, RIWAMA has officially opened designated Receptacles strategically scattered across the city of Port Harcourt and its environs for dumping of refuse. Therefore, in defying the clearly outlined laws for appropriate dumping by throwing trash on the median of the road, it becomes unlawful.
But, like Oliver Twist, National Network requests that RIWAMA do more in its waste management effort. First, the synergy with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be revisited and strengthened for greater productivity. Residents and those doing business in the State need sustained enlightenment on environmental cleanliness and sanitary habits.
There should be dedicated phone lines where responsible citizens could call to report illegal dumping of wastes. In addition, we recommend that RIWAMA should revert to the provision of waste bins for all residents for refuse disposal which should be emptied into the receptacles at the end of the day. A token could be charged as Sanitation Fee for the service of evacuating the wastes from the receptacles.
A special taskforce should be constituted to watch over the affected major roads and those caught dumping wastes on the median should be arrested and prosecuted.
Finally, it is not out of place to also appeal to residents not to politicize environmental sanitation in the State. Politicians should be advised that RIWAMA is an agency of government. It is an agency created to serve all Rivers people. The opposition party and its members should support the Agency in its quest to clean the State and restore its Garden City status.