By Mercy Hill, Precious Ukeje & Alex Adejoh
The compulsory sanitation exercise in Anambra State which was held on Saturday, 24th January, being the first this year, recorded low participation by residents and traders in Awka and its suburbs.
Fides monitoring crew observed that most markets, including Eke Awka, Nkwo Amaenyi, Umuodu and Nodu Markets respectively, had shops under lock and key but with no sign of traders cleaning the dirty surroundings. While some street traders used the opportunity of the closed markets to make brisk business without harassment, some were found just standing in front of their shops waiting for the 10:00am stipulated stoppage time.
Notwithstanding the monitoring of the exercise by the members of the Anambra State Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra (OCHA Brigade) to ensure the execution of the exercise, it was observed that buses and tricycle (keke) riders, were busy plying their trade, while in the various streets and villages visited, residents were seen having meetings and indulging in all kinds of leisure activities.
The Head of Operations, OCHA Brigade, Mr. Michael Ezeaku, who was carrying out his duty at the Eke Awka Market, noted that the Managing Director, OCHA Brigade, had mandated them to ensure that anyone found guilty of not partaking in the exercise be punished.
He said also that he and his colleagues would go around to ensure that everyone was involved in the exercise.
For Mr. Emeka Okafor, environment, no doubt, was a serious issue in Anambra State that should not be played with. He regretted that the Eke Awka Market was not shut which allowed many people to do their daily business instead of partaking in the exercise.
He called on the authorities to be more systematic and assertive in handling environmental matters in the state, noting that it was time those who failed to be part of the exercise were dealt with.
The Chairman of Nkwo Amaenyi Market, Mr. Okafor Chukwuma, explained that the market was a village market that had little control by the government, and as such, they had third Saturdays as their own stipulated days for sanitation exercise which was usually adhered to more than the one the state earmarked.
Some others who spoke to Fides, including Mr. Emeka Anthony Obika, a trader at Eke Awka Market, and a plastic trader at Nkwo Amaenyi Market who insisted on simply being identified as Mrs. B.N.O., described the environment as filthy due to improper channeling of drainage and poor maintenance which, they said, worsened whenever it rained.
They called on the Ministry of Environment to look into the constant overflow of dirty water from the drainage into the road from Ichide Junction at Zik Avenue to Eke Awka to protect the roads in the area.