ABUJA IS READY FOR A WASTE TO ENERGY PLANT - DIRECTOR, AEPB - Living Environment

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Friday, September 4, 2020

ABUJA IS READY FOR A WASTE TO ENERGY PLANT - DIRECTOR, AEPB

The Abuja Environmental Protection Board, it’s Departments, Units and Sections through public and private sector participation addresses public and environmental health needs of the residents through the provision of prompt and efficient services. In an interview with Living Environment’s reporter Ada Achanya, the Director of AEPB Alhaji Baba Shehu Lawan spoke on the activities and development relating to the services of the sector within FCT and its environs:


Excerpts:
 What plans does AEPB have to improve private sector investments in waste collection in the FCT?
The agency is presently working with 31 private contractors and the same contractors are responsible for cleaning the FCT. So, by extension, our work is done through private partnerships. The contractors have been given contracts for a period of 3 years to collect all waste within the allocated areas. In addition, new areas have been captured and added to the 31 lots which means the new additional areas will make up 47 lots and cities to be cleaned.

This process ensures that more areas are captured because the city keeps growing and every 3 years more cities are added. Initially, it were 27 cities but now it has been increased to 31. However, new proposals are on ground to add more areas to cover up to 47 lots which means they are going to cover parts of the developing areas within the city to ensure that the city remains absolutely clean.

This is also part of the mandate of the AEPB, supported by the Hon. Minister of FCT engaging contractors who are paid regularly to sanitize the city. They now carry out house to house collection on daily basis. Every household is visited 3 times a week. 

During the raining season, we also cut the grasses, maintain of the lawns on the street shoulders and green verges. during raining season, the expressways, the sidewalks and the roads are regularly cleaned, while during the dry season they rake and sweep any leaves, and cut trees, that’s why Abuja is looking very clean.


How are the dumpster trucks being monitored?
Yes, we have departments in charge of this monitoring. Under solid waste management we have two departments; Solid Waste Management North and Solid Waste Management South. The city is split into two, the Independence Avenue to the north is the Northern part and to the south is the Southern part all headed by directors. They have supporting staff, so you have many categories of officers allocated to each of the units. So, based on the hierarchy of the officers the city is well planned and staffs are allocated to particular units to monitor how work is been carried out.

What is the latest development concerning the dumpsites?
Refuse dumpsites are found within and outskirts of the cities in Nigeria, and due to poor and ineffective management, the dumpsites have become a source of health hazard to people living in the vicinity of such dumps.

I urge investors to invest in waste to energy plants in the Federal Capital Territory.
Any prospective investor who wants to invest in waste to energy business in the FCT is welcome, but they should do their feasibility studies to ensure they have adequate waste to be used to power their plants. Once the investor develops a waste to energy plant, anybody who has a dump truck truck can take waste to the plant, where a weigh bridge will measure the waste and the carrier paid per ton, as is obtainable in other places.

The agency has received so many proposals for waste to energy projects. The agency has also been talking to these potential investors, because this business requires a lot of funding in carrying out engineering for treating the waste for the purposes of energy. This energy from waste is a good idea and will be sold out to AEDC for use by the FCT residents. Presently we are generating over 1000 - 1200 tons of waste daily, this is adequate for any plant to operate because there’s enough waste for the investors to process and generate power. We welcome any progressive ideas on waste generation and management

The rains are here and we have blocked drainages everywhere with heaps of waste, what is the plan from your office?
Our contractors are taking care of the drainages. On the expressway you will see the gutters are always clean. The drains which are covered are handled by the facilities maintenance department, they are responsible for opening and cleaning before the rains start. 

Who is responsible for waste management in the satellite towns?
The satellite town is under Satellite Town Department, they are responsible to carry out the cleaning of drainages, therefore it is not under AEPB. The Area Councils are also not under the AEPB. The Councils manage their jurisdictions. 

What is your office doing concerning open defecation?
We are on it and AEPB is carrying out sensitization on open defecation in the rural areas of the FCT. Our environmental health and safety department has over 70 environmental health safety officers who have been employed by the board to visit the villages to educate them on the hazards of open defecation. The Federal Government has launched a campaign on it and we are partnering on this to engage the rural communities on how to construct toilets, latrines and communal latrines where anyone who doesn’t have a latrine and toilet in the house can use the communal latrines.
The sensitization is on the drawing board for the people to be aware on the danger of open defecation.

The residents of the FCT have complained about the use of extreme force by the AEPB joint task force, how do you sensitize defaulters of environmental laws in FCT?  
There’s no issue of application of extreme force for defaulters. Abuja is created by law and in FCT you don’t allow people to come from anywhere and trade on the roads and if this is allowed, all the roads will be occupied by traders, hawkers, and sellers. Even motorist will find it difficult to ply the roads. If this happens you will find street hawkers in every neighborhood.


In Abuja, there are designated markets to do legitimate business. If you stand on the road or streets to display your wears or even by the traffic light and pedestal bridges, you are violating the law. There is enough knowledge that this activity is not allowed and is against the FCT law and if caught, they are taken to a mobile court and duly prosecuted. 

There have been complains that goods and items seized by your organization are never returned or accounted by the AEPB, what’s your response to this?
Once you are arrested with your items, you will be brought to the facilities office at Area 3, you will be profiled, your items sized will be documented and keep in a store. You will be brought before the magistrate court, prosecuted and fined. Once the fine is paid the items will be released to you. But if a hawker decides to run away and the items are seized, the items will remain in our office.

But I advise hawkers not to run away, rather anytime they are arrested they should follow our team to the office in Area 3 for documentation, but if the person runs away and items not documented, there’s no way of knowing the items are theirs if they later come forward. The court grants us permission to destroy unclaimed items.

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