If you drive past the Unizik Temporary section of the Awka/Onitsha Express Way ten times, chances are that you will see one or two people openly defecating in the gutter separating the two lanes five times. This happens at different times of the day, despite the recent provision of public toilet facilities in that axis by the Anambra State Government.
To worsen matters, on both sides of the gutter are food vendors and bread sellers whose food items could very easily be contaminated by germs emanating from the gutter. The end result is that the people along that axis or travelers who eat or buy bread at the motor parks there could get cholera or dysentery. This is not good enough.
In every society, people are supposed to behave like human beings and not animals but the reverse is continually proving to be the case in Anambra State. This untoward development is not restricted to Awka alone. It is the sight in the state’s major cities like Onitsha and Nnewi. The people who do this have turned nearly every corner of gutters into toilets.
But back to Awka, being a capital city, one should have thought that the authorities concerned would be up and doing by ensuring that such human beings do not mess up the environment. We have the Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra, popularly called OCHA Brigade. This outfit is supposed to monitor against such developments but it seems that their attention is often focused on raiding shops and carting away goods sold there on the excuse that those people’s shops have crossed the limits allowed them which are often gutters.
People have been accusing them of merely making money from traders, rather than having the zeal to do a good job. When one sees what is happening along the aforesaid part of the express, one may be forced to doubt the efficiency and good intentions of OCHA Brigade when they leave such places and raid shops instead.
There is no reason toilet facilities should be provided at such places as motor parks for members of the public and people still choose to defecate openly. This not only poses health hazards but blights the aesthetics of the capital city.
While we commend the Anambra State Government for deeming it fit to construct public toilets along that axis, we hasten to suggest that they put slabs on the gutter to stop people defecating inside it. Putting slabs there will not block the gutter as water will still be flowing freely underneath. But one thing it will achieve is that it will force people to desist from descending into the gutter to defecate.
Also adequate enlightenment should be carried out so that those unaware of the public toilet facilities there will know and thus have no excuse to use the gutter. The said public toilets should be equally well maintained as users may get infected there if the conditions are squalid, thus forcing them to use open spaces.
For now, everyone should join hands to stop open defecation across the state.