A clean environment is essential for healthy living as an unclean environment leads to a bad deteriorating condition of a society in the form of contagious diseases and so on. It is in recognition of this obvious fact, and the desire to ensure a clean and healthy environment for the people of Delta State that necessitated the setting up of the Delta State Waste Management Board via a law of the Delta State House of Assembly in October 2004, during the administration of former Governor James Ibori.
The board which is on a full-time basis was established and saddled amongst other things with the responsibilities of ensuring a clean, hygienic and healthy environment with the ultimate objective of avoiding the outbreak of epidemics in the state.
The board has had seven executive chairmen and still maintains a four department organogram structure.
While it is necessary to acknowledge the efforts of the past chairmen and members of the board, it is worthy of note that the needed bite, initiatives and foresight to fully achieve the mandate of the Government agency became manifest when Dr Ifeanyi Okowa took over the mandate of leadership as governor of Delta State on May 29, 2015.
Determined to sustain the achievements recorded by the board in his first tenure, Governor Okowa on September 24, 2019, a few months after he got the mandate of Deltans for a second term in office inaugurated a new board with Hon. Emmanuel Chinye as the Executive Chairman. Working with Hon. Chinye as members are Hon. Matthew Mofe Edema, member Delta South, Olorogun Daniel Ighedo, member Delta Central and Mr. Jude Onya, member Delta North.
For Hon. Emmanuel Chinye, who was the Delta State Commissioner for Culture & Tourism in the first tenure of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, his appointment as Chairman of the Delta State Waste Management Board in September 2019, did not come as a surprise, knowing and trusting the Governor to exercise the right judgment on issues especially as they pertain to his political progress and well-being.
No doubt, in just one year of Hon. Emmanuel Chinye as Chairman of the Delta State Waste Management Board, the signs are obvious that Governor Okowa made the right decision and choice in appointing him to head the agency.
In settling down for the onerous task ahead, one major focus of Hon. Chinye and members of the board is to be able to turn waste generated in the state to wealth as from 2021. This according to him, is because waste business is now a huge investment globally. Towards achieving the set goal, Hon. Emmanuel Chinye disclosed that the board is gradually in talks with some firms at local and international levels to see how they can be attracted to partner with the board. This he said would be the second phase of their assignment whereby the waste generated in the state are turned into wealth by engaging the people to earn a living.
While aiming at turning waste into wealth in the nearest future, the Hon. Chinye led Delta State Waste Management Board has taken steps to prepare for its eventual actualization through ensuring maximum cleanliness of the state. For Hon. Chinye, this is very achievable, judging from the encouragement and support which the present board is getting from the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
The picture of how the streets and roads, especially the median kerbs in parts of Delta State were littered before the coming of the Hon. Emmanuel Chinye led Waste Management Board is very bad and worrisome, largely due to the attitude of most residents who have the habit of dropping wastes on the streets and roads. To this end, unlike in the past years, Hon. Chinye ensured that the operations of the board are carried out on a daily basis especially in the six pilot areas being covered by the board namely – Asaba, Warri, Uvwie, Sapele, Agbor and Ughelli. This strategy has paid off for the present board, as it has within one year been able to clear most of the refuse on the streets and the road median.
To considerably clear and properly dispose of waste across Delta State, the Hon. Chinye led board on assuming duty on September 24, 2019, the first thing was to tackle the challenge of having government-approved dump sites. This was paramount to the success of the board because when wastes are carted away or evacuated from the streets and roads, their final destination ought to be the dumpsites.
The board started first by ensuring that the dumpsite at the Asaba Capital Territory has a 24hour Bulldozer to fast track waste dumping at the site. Done with the Asaba dumpsite, the board moved to Ughelli where hitherto it was using a private dumpsite, notwithstanding the fact that the state government had an approved dump site which was yet to be put into use. After discussions with the people of the community, the board moved in not only to cultivate the dumpsite but also fenced it. As for the Agbarho dump site used by both Warri and Uvwie, the road was not accessible, thereby making the people to patronize private dumpsites, which are also the same as illegal dumpsites. Therefore, the board had to carry out some palliative measures on the road to make it accessible, with the hope of doing a major work on the road based on the availability of funds. In Sapele, the board was able to acquire a dump site and cultivated it after years of using a private dump sites. At Agbor in Ika South and Ika NorthEast Local Government Areas, Hon. Chinye led board has not only properly cultivated the dumpsite for the area but also finished fencing it. With this achievement, the Delta State Waste Management Board now has functional dumpsites in its six operational areas.
With functioning dump sites in the state, another aspect on which the Hon Emmanuel Chinye led board focused its attention, was the verification of registered Private Sector Participants PSPs, in the collection and disposal of wastes. When the board came in September 2019, it met with the PSPs and gave them two months to fix their vehicles. Most of the vehicles of the PSPs were in bad shapes, thereby hampering smooth waste collection and disposal. After two months, the board carried out verification and confirmed most of the PSPs fit and capable to carry on with their jobs.
The board did not only stop at verifying and certifying the PSPs, it assisted them by carrying out sensitization of Deltans as well as enforcement to ensure that they register with the PSPs. The enforcement which was tagged: “Operation Show Your PSP Receipt” helped a lot to get most residents of the state to register with PSP’s in charge of their zones. These efforts by the board have tremendously improved the work of the PSPs with a sizable number of Deltans now registered with them.
To achieve effective waste disposal, the point of collection matters a lot. It is for this reason that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in December 2019 approved the free distribution of waste bins to many citizens across the state, which ordinarily would have cost them more than twenty thousand naira each. The waste bins were eventually distributed in January 2020. With every home or compound having a waste bin, Hon. Mofe Edema, Olorogun Daniel Ighedo and Mr Jude Onya do not see any reason why heaps of refuse should be found on major roads and streets in parts of the state.
In addition to these achievements of the Hon Emmanuel Chinye’s led Delta State Waste Management Board is the engagement of sweepers on major roads particularly in Asaba, Ika, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri and Uvwie areas that are very metropolitan in nature. Driving and walking through some of these roads reveal clearly the determination of the Okowa administration to achieving a cleaner Delta state.
While the Board acknowledges the fact that most Deltans have tried to comply with measures to keep the environment clean and healthy, it solicits further cooperation from them, especially those who are not yet registered with the PSPs or have refused to pay their bills as at when due.
Hon Emmanuel Chinye, Hon. Matthew Mofe Edema, Olorogun Daniel Ighedo and Mr Jude Onya harped on the need for attitudinal change on the part of the people, which according to them is the major setback to dealing with the challenge of a clean environment in the state. They frowned seriously at the indiscriminate dumping of refuse even by the educated and enlightened class in the society on streets and roads and appealed for a change of attitude to assist the government to continue to do more for the people.
Just one year down the line, Hon Chinye, Hon Edema, Olorogun Ighedo and Mr Onya are very optimistic that the vision of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to achieve a cleaner Delta state is realizable. They acknowledged the fact that the Governor has supported the board to succeed, and they are full of gratitude to the Governor for finding them worthy to serve in the present Delta State Waste Management Board, pledging to continue to give their best in achieving the set goal and objectives.
With the achievements of the Hon Emmanuel Chinye led Delta State Waste Management Board in one year, there are high hopes for the board to achieve more in the vision of the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to bring to fruition a Green and cleaner Delta State.