Lately, almost every canal within the city welcomes your eyes to a ‘sea of waste’; a combination of used water and soda plastic cans, used water sachets and a variety of polythene bags and food wrappers.
Now, this sight definitely is the beginning of an environmental hazard with devastating tolls on communities and coastal ecologies as the effect rubs off on all communities around the coastal areas.
Far from a matter of surprise, the collection of waste was dropped at various times into the canals by people living within these canals. Residents have over time cultivated the bad habit of dumping refuse into the canals close to them. And they do this ignorantly, hoping that the moving water will carry the waste further to other areas.
No, they are very wrong! While a first community thinks that it could be spared the cost of carting away its refuse by passing on the burden on a next community, another community likely thinks the same way too. So, it becomes a matter of ‘what goes around comes around.
Ordinarily, members of the public have sub-consciously developed the ‘blame government’ culture, while each person tends to exonerate himself from the problem.
The wake-up call is far gone because environmental maintenance has become everybody’s responsibility; government and the public alike. While government can be tasked on the need for improved and continuous enlightenment campaign, members of the public should understand that there is no longer room for excuses on the grounds of ignorance.
However, it is sickening that the National Orientation Agency only reacts to situations rather than be on top of its game by running enlightenment programmes on the need for a collective effort to properly manage the environment.
For over a decade now, global campaigns have notably been talking and educating people on the dangers of climate change and its degree of impact on areas like our local environment where waste matters are dumped into flowing rivers and canals. And these are meant to help people know that they owe themselves a duty to maintain the environment for their benefit.
Talking about devastating floods effect in the last three years, communities close to the coastal areas across Nigeria have had very bad experiences recording deaths, loss of property running into hundreds of millions and loss of farmlands and houses.
A number of people in these communities, especially those in the city outskirts and in the rural areas, do not understand how dumping of refuse into the canals and moving rivers could cause trouble for them because after all, according to them, they have always lived that way without suffering such challenges.
In that instance, the agency saddled with the responsibility of creating the needed awareness have failed. However, people must also make use of available news sources all around them to understand why rivers and canals now overflow their banks always and cause them so much pain.
In this instance, those who care to know can testify that there is huge cost tied to ignorance or knowing what to do and not taking appropriate action when it matters.
Funny enough, it has become a recurring decimal for residents and council workers alike to try to clean the drains by digging out all kinds of waste materials after the rains. It is baffling why such efforts should be left undone until the rains come. Importantly, people should have stopped the regular dumping of waste into the canals and rivers and save themselves the trouble of doing so during the rains with possibility of suffering losses.
The immediate solution lies with each person by ensuring that waste are properly disposed and carted away by waste managers. The campaign will work better as each person tells another.