Is ASWAMA Underfunded?

Despite the best efforts of the Anambra State Waste Management Agency, ASWAMA, to succeed on its mandate of ridding the state, especially the major cities, of filth, such efforts appear like attempting to empty the ocean with a cup. One of the cities worst hit by this failure is Awka, the capital city.

Fides observed a growing build-up of refuse in Awka and environs in the last three weeks; and this is despite assurances by the Managing Director of the Agency, Mr Amechi Akorah, of conquering the menace.

Investigations by Fides, however reveal that led the Agency’s boss might have been naturally protecting his government by making what is obviously not too genuine assurances.

It also observed that most of the trash trucks (compactors and swing arms) break down frequently in the course of their work. One particular Innoson Swing Arm (005) smokes through the city in a manner that suggests that the rings are completely gone.

In past interviews, the ASWAMA boss had insisted that the government funded the authority sufficiently for the management of waste in the capital city.

Close investigations indicate, however, as already stated, that the MD appears economical with the truth.

Possibilities of truth suggest that government may have neglected, for some time, the acquisition of new trucks for the essential services for which ASWAMA was created.

A visit to the Ministry of Works at Works Road, Awka, from where ASWAMA trucks take off daily, shows a good number of broken down and unserviceable trash trucks abandoned in the compound. Indeed, it may be safe to say that the Agency cannot boast of five functional and standard trash moving trucks in its entire fleet.

ASWAMA drivers, auto technicians and operations team that Fides met in the compound extolled the MD’s commitment at rehabilitating abandoned vehicles since his assumption of office a year ago. But the enormity of domestic and industrial waste that await daily evacuation in Awka suggests that the challenge requires much more attention than the rehabilitation of old trucks. Additional trucks (compactors, swing arms and tipper trucks) are urgently needed, if ASWAMA is to live up to expectations.

Fides investigation confirms the addition of a number of light trucks to ASWAMA fleet, a welcome initiative by the MD, who was said to have approached some lovers of the Obiano Administration and appealed for their support some time last year. Two of them bear the mark of Fidelity Bank Plc.

Residents of Udoka, Ngozika, as well as big commercial outfits like Stanel, say ASWAMA’s pilot scheme tagged, ‘Clean Closer Initiative’, that saw the introduction of light trucks, is a breather that deserves the support of both the government and the inhabitants of Awka as it has promises of improving waste management in the capital city.

Fides authoritatively gathered from inside sources that ASWAMA has not purchased any equipment in the immediate past, the last being in 2015. They said the last fleet was an Innoson compactor. They dismissed Innoson trucks as unsuitable for the work because it breaks down rapidly and does not have spare parts in the open market. They rather recommended Mercedes trucks (models 814 and 1414), which parts are easily sourced in our local markets.

Away from the watchful eyes of ASWAMA boss, an ASWAMA truck driver and trash-pickers also led Fides to see the challenge posed by Awka dumpsite. Located at the site of the proposed Millennium City, the dumpsite is filled to an overflowing brim and requires critical attention.

ASWAMA trucks that go there to tip their contents wait for turns and spend long hours waiting to tip because of lack of space. At the slightest rain shower, the trucks get stuck in the muddy burrow pit where they dislodge their contents and wait for the Dozier to push them out of the mud. The trucks often get damaged in the process.

ASWAMA boss, Mr. Akorah, may not want to hear this, but the truth as uncovered by Fides remains that the organization under his management can do a lot more to improve waste management in Awka and entire Anambra State.

For ASWAMA to remain relevant in Anambra today, Mr. Akorah needs to approach his boss, the governor of Anambra State, to purchase new trash trucks and other equipment critical to the success of his assignment. He may also go back to the House of Assembly to push for the autonomy of ASWAMA as it was meant by law.

Until he pushes to a fruitful end, he needs to consult with his boss now to buy new trash moving trucks for ASWAMA. Anything short of these measures will mean that the Agency will remain redundant, thus defeating the very essence of its creation.