Oyo State’s plan to turn waste management into economically viable ventures —Ayoola, Environment commissioner

With 3,000 tonnes of waste generated daily in Ibadan, keeping the city and the entire state clean is no mean task. However, Oyo State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Kehinde Ayoola, explains to PAUL OMOROGBE how the current administration plans not only to manage the waste, but to turn it into a value chain of economically viable ventures.

How is your ministry dealing with Ibadan’s recurrent challenge of sanitation?

When you talk of sanitation, it is better you look at it as solid waste management, water supply and hygiene. So, we’ll take them together. Solid waste is a big issue in this city. About 3,000 tonnes of solid waste is generated in Ibadan on a daily basis. That’s our calculation in this ministry. We still have liquid waste as well. Solid waste comprises two major components – those that can degrade which are biodegradables like leftover food, leaves and so on; and non-biodegradables which cannot decompose like plastic, nylon products and metals. So, you have these two categories. Now you need space, that is why we are expanding and rehabilitating our dumpsites. You need to collect it [waste] efficiently – that is gather all that we regard as waste, whether they originate from homes, markets, or industries, get them together, then move them without any dropping on the streets. After efficient collection, we move them to the next point which is the dumpsite.

However, we know that dumpsite is not the ultimate. We are going to provide what is called sanitary landfills. But before we get to sanitary landfills, there will be transfer loading stations. This is where sorting will be done, where those materials that can still be useful for recycling can be recovered. So, we are going to be doing material recovery from the waste at the transfer loading stations. At the end of the day, by the time you have recovered some materials – plastics, metals, nylon and so on, you are then left with organic matter that can be transported to the dumpsite where there is adequate provision to receive them.

Now, in between all these is a value chain of economically viable ventures. People can make money from sorting, people can make money from collection, from recycling of materials. It is a value chain which we hope to turn into a business.

The sanitation aspect has to do with provision of water. There is a project which Oyo State is trying to join anchored by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. It is called PEWASH – Partnership for Expanded Water Sanitation and Hygiene. It is predicated on the fact that majority of our people in the rural area lack access to clean water. And the Federal Government will be partnering with state governments and other development partners to provide water, either by boreholes or motorised boreholes. Then, the local governments are to provide toilets, because Oyo State and indeed Nigeria has the unenviable record of being the number two in the world in open defecation. People defecate openly because they don’t have facilities to do so, that is, toilets. So, toilets will be provided in conjunction with the local governments to our rural communities. But in using toilets there is need for water for washing. So, water will also come in.

Now, in this ministry, what are we doing about water? The Water Corporation of Oyo State is executing an African Development Bank (ADB) supported programme for water reticulation – talking of piping. A lot of water is produced or could be produced by the two dams that serve Ibadan for instance. Asejire Dam: 180 million cubic metres of water per day; the Eleyele Dam: 20 million cubic metres per day. Combining these two is enough for Ibadan, but it does not get to the homes! So, you get it to homes, offices, industries, markets by way of pipes. There should be a piping network. That is what the ADB project is all about. And the project I am happy to announce is about 80 per cent completed. The terminal date for it is April 2020, and we hope that before the next quarter this should be in place.

But that notwithstanding, the Ministry of Environment has already taken stock of all the public boreholes in Oyo State, whether they are owned by NGOs or government. We are looking at those that are non-functional, those not functioning at their optimum. The idea is to repair them. We have written to the local governments with the details of these boreholes and we have received 45 responses out of the 68 LGs and LCDAs that we have with details that we need. So, with this, we are going to propose to government to undertake the repair of these boreholes to get water to the people.

We are even involved in a proposal to government with a view to repairing all our fire hydrants across the state. You are aware that there have been fore incidences. We discovered that all our hydrants are not working. We are awaiting his excellency’s approval on that. We have six fire stations in Ibadan, and seven outside Ibadan in the zones. In all these places we need fire hydrants so they (the fire service) can operate effectively.

When will the solid waste management plan kick off?

It has already kicked off. This time last week, we had a meeting with the consultant, His Excellency, members of cabinet, market men and women, artisans, people in transport. We started by sensitisation. The next step is for this ministry to select PSPs – private sector participants in waste collection. These are private companies that have already responded to the advert put out by the ministry. We are working closely with our consultant, together with Oyo State Waste Management Authority and the ministry. We have a technical committee that will review the various applications that we have. There will be routing. We have routes already but we will add more, because there are some routes which some companies are covering that looks too big for them, so, we will add more. The idea is to have more hands so that we can ensure efficiency of collection. That is the next thing that will happen in a few days.

Some areas of Ibadan have more filth than others. The impression is that level of education in those areas has something to do with it.

I disagree that level of education has a nexus with generation of waste. People that are educated also generate a lot of waste. In fact, I have in the past crossed some vehicles on the streets driven by supposedly educated people but loaded with waste to be dropped on our road medians. So, it does not have to do with education. If you are looking at where educated people are, you talk of the university campus, Bodija, Jericho, Idi-Ishin and so on – they generate waste there too. Some of them also tend to dump waste indiscriminately there too. So, it is not about level of education.

It is not about poverty too, because poor people generate waste the same way rich people do. but population is a factor. In places that are densely populated of course you expect to pick more waste than the sparsely populated places. Then I have identified something I call attitude. The attitude of some of our people to waste management, collection, disposal is poor. People can throw waste anywhere. That attitude has to change. We are going by way of advocacy, education and sensitisation. The meeting we had with market leaders and community development leaders last week is one step. We are going to be employing electronic media, social media and print media. We are going to have discussions with leaders at various levels. Already we have finalised arrangements to meet, for Ibadan, the Olubadan of Ibadanland to call mogajis in Ibadan. When you go to differentareas you see waste, it is over these areas that these people are mogajis. Then the religious leaders both Christian and Muslim. We have to discuss with them also and talk to their congregations. We have to inform them because by keeping our society clean, we have taken a giant step towards driving away diseases and epidemics. We need to drive this home. We will meet traditional leaders too.

We have a plan to establish environmental brigades in our schools, primary secondary and even tertiary. Last week, I was in Lagos for a conference on climate change, and we have resolved to involve the Ministry of Education so that some day we can mainstream climate change, environmental education, sanitation, solid waste management into the school curriculum. Let kids start learning about this early in life. So, it is a wholistic thing. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

How long will all this take?

This administration has four years. The timeline starts from January this year, and we are on it already. We are going to be licensing PSPs very soon. Those ones will be sent to various routes that we have. For efficiency of collection, we will ensure that happens. We will employ more people through that. The next thing is waste to wealth which is recycling that we have talked about, and in all this government is going to make heavy investment in the waste collection sector and in infrastructure. To rehabilitate the waste dumps alone is expensive, and this government is committed to doing it.