Open defecation in major cities in Nigeria is not anything new. In some states, despite the provision of public toilets at designated places, many still prefer to defecate in gutters, bushes and premises of public facilities in the night.
This comes with its health hazards, especially at such public places as motor parks and markets where food stuffs are sold.
In Anambra State, the situation isn’t much different. But of particular concern is the open defecation in a major area of the Awka Capital City which is the UNIZIK Junction.
This can be said to be the most prominent and popular area of the capital city, a development that presupposes that it should be the last place that such a thing as open defecation can be condoned.
It is more worrisome, given the fact that it is done in full public glare, with the various state government agencies aware of it but not raising a finger against it.
Anyone driving through UNIZIK while coming into Awka will not fail to notice grown men and younger ones doing their stuff in the gutter that divides the Awka-Onitsha Express Way.
This paper had not only written about it in the past but had verbally told the governor of the state through its Editor-in-Chief, with the governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, promising to take action.
Apparently, no action has been taken and the eyesore has continued.
It is particularly regrettable that in a state where the government set up a body charged with stopping such anomaly, the thing has continued.
We are talking about the agency known as Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra, otherwise known as OCHA Brigade.
Rather than going after those involved in open defecation which directly assaults the senses and directly endangers public health, this agency is rather chasing shop owners and traders about, either levying or imposing fines on them for the erection of illegal structures or similar offences.
Given that the agency’s name has to do with cleanliness and health, what could be more dangerous to health or pose a threat to a clean environment than open defecation?
We therefore wonder why the attention of OCHA Brigade is yet to focus on open defecation. Is it that it cannot get enough money out of the defaulters who are mainly artisans and thus ignoring them to focus on those from whom they can easily extort money from?
Whatever the case, the people of the state deserve much better performance from this particular agency as failing to tackle open defecation is tantamount to failing in its major brief.
We therefore call on the Anambra State Government to compel OCHA Brigade and any other sister agency to descend on those casting a slur on the image of the state and spoiling its aesthetics.
While the unavailability of public toilets or not having enough of such, is no excuse for open defecation, government should nevertheless endeavour to provide such a facility in every motor park and market and ensure their proper maintenance.
We cannot be talking about open defecation in this period of our national development. Certain things, indeed, should not be part of the modern conversation.