The theme for this year’s world environment day is “Beat Plastic Pollution” which became necessary due to our planet being inundated by over 400 million tonnes of plastic with about half of that number designed to be used once.
Plastic which has become part of our daily lives with variety of uses ranging from bottling soda, water, beverages, packaging etc. Today, our drainages, waterways as well as landfills, rivers and lakes are clogged with plastic which also combusted into toxic smoke, making it one of the gravest threats to the planet.
The history of flood in West Africa is long dated but a recent look at such issues was emphasized by (IRIN, 2004) which blamed it on uncollected small plastic pouches in which drinking water is sold. Ibadan the state capital has continuously witnessed her own share of flooding but climaxed in August 2011 leaving some people dead, others homeless and their valuables destroyed.
Ibadan with a population of over 3,000,000 people which qualifies our city as a metropolitant areas, 1 of 55 in Nigeria and 1934 in the world has in times past being labelled and tagged the dirties city in west Africa is no thanks to the mismanagement of our wastes. As such it is very necessary to pay attention to combating the impending crises that are already arising from unmanaged plastic pollution.
The administration of Governor Seyi Makinde under Omituntun 1.0 recorded laudable achievements with building of drains, culverts and bridges across 17communities in the state which were completed under the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project as indicated in some of the news bulleting of promises kept.
However, much can not be said about waste management in the state capital as issue of waste collection is still a major concern with our road median continued to be littered with refuse not being collected on time.
The challenges posed with collection which is the first stage of three in waste management (Collection, Disposal and Recycling) made me conduct an independent research and result revealed that the amount of plastic we are generating amidst these waste contributes to about 20%. As such it is important to note that majority of sodas, herbal mixes, man-power, energy drinks, aphrodisiacs, beverages and all that were being consumed at different locations across the states now comes in plastic containers.
An early morning road walk across ring-road and Bodija on a Saturday morning will reveal varieties of plastics and polythene littering the sidewalks and sometimes finding their way to the roadside. I have written in time past on the need to pay adequate attention to our waste management system and it is in line with this year celebration of world environment day that I am using this medium to appeal to your excellency to come up with policies that will help reduce plastic pollution and waste generation as a whole.
Unlike Ibadan, Abidjan that was chosen to host this year’s world environment summit has become a hub for environmentally minded start-ups creating jobs for her residents and boosted the country’s IGR which is aided by the country’s resolve in combating plastic pollution by placing a ban on the use of plastic bags since 2014. This is a follow up on the likes of Bangladesh who in 2002 became the first city that banned the use of plastic bags due to devasting floods that occured in 1998 when plastic bags clogged drains and delayed water levels falling.
To achieve a sustainable environment, your intention to come up with a policy framework that will aid waste sorting and recycling is well indicated in Omituntun 2.0 road map to Sustainable Development. It is now becoming important to speed up action in discussing with relevant stakeholders in ensuring we beat Plastic pollution.
We are presently looking forward to the creation of Oyo State Mobilization Agency for Socio-Economic Development whose part of their key role is to come up with policy framework for enforcements of street trading and waste management, we therefore appeal to you to ensure you constitute this team with seasoned professionals and environmental enthusiasts most importantly when you finally name a commissioner for the ministry of environment.
The waste management consultant Montainnai brought some waste receptacles to your inauguration venue at Liberty stadium few days ago and one can only imagine what could have been if such were made available all day everyday in schools, markets, hospitals, shopping malls, churches, mosques, stadia, car-parks, bus terminals and other public places.
Ibadan is a pace-setter and we can as well be on the frontline of sustainable solutions by adopting reusable packaging and recycling promotions. Your administration in the mean time, should mandate waste management consultants/contractors, ministry of environment, waste management authority to collaborate with National Orientation Agency in taking campaigns seriously by ensuring they visit schools and markets creating the much needed awareness across the state on waste management.
To make our environments clean, healthy and sustainable which is in line with the SDG 11- make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and resilient and sustainable which the New Urban Agenda was designed to accelerate, we need to put priorities on beating plastic pollution.
May your administration succeed as I wish you and the good people of Oyo State a very happy and sustainable World Environment Day.
Animasaun Ajibola Idris
Public Affairs Analyst and Environmental enthusiast writes from Molete, Ibadan.