Kaduna – The Kaduna State Government says it has commenced its emergency waste collection and disposal programme.
This is contained in a statement signed by Samuel Aruwan, the Special Assistant, Media and Publicity.
Aruwan said that the intervention programme was designed to address the gaps in the waste collection process caused by the strike action of waste disposal contractors.
He also said that the sudden stoppage of waste collection by the contractors led to a pile up of waste in several locations.
“The previous waste collection contractors began their strike on Oct. 20 and based their action on the non-payment of their claims.
“At best, these claims constitute part of the inherited liabilities of the past government; like other claims for payment, they have to be subjected to verification of performance and accurate determination of payments due.
“But the contractors felt entitled to unquestioned and speedy payment.
“They resorted to the blackmail in the hope that a pile-up of refuse will compel the government to succumb to their claims.
“The government responded to this contract violation by commencing limited waste evacuation to manage the situation while arranging for the more comprehensive intervention which has now started.’’
Aruwan said that the emergency waste collection programme would cover all the areas that were abandoned by the striking waste contractors.
He said that no fewer than 6,600 youths would be employed to clean metropolitan Kaduna and other areas for the next three months while the processes for a new system of waste collection was being concluded.
According to the statement, the solid waste intervention is designed as a community-based effort that will enable the employment of youths from the communities to keep their neighbourhoods clean.
Aruwan said the programme was expected to boost sanitation and simultaneously have economic impact on the communities concerned.
According to him, the state government regrets any inconveniences the refuse pile-up may have caused and appeals to members of the public for their understanding and support to ensure that the programme succeeds.
He said the government was aware of the partisan affiliations of the waste contractors who owed their contracts to party patronage.
“Prudence with public resources must always trump the blackmail of vested interests.
“The waste collection contractors were costing the state government N120 million monthly, with local governments paying additional N24 million monthly.
According to the statement, the previous government also assisted the contractors with waste collection equipment for which they are yet to repay up to 50 per cent of the cost.
“The tricycles that were supplied have less than 30 per cent repayment; some of the equipments have disappeared and the Ministry of Environment has been directed to retrieve all of them.
“The unpaid cost of equipment will be set-off from whatever payments may eventually be adjudged valid.
“Despite these expenses, these contractors cover only 60 per cent of Kaduna metropolis.
“An assessment of their performance conducted by the Ministry of Environment indicated that only about 20 per cent of the contractors were performing at average level.
“Any service that is verified to have been delivered to the expected level will eventually be paid for,’’ he said.
Aruwan said that the priority of the Kaduna State Government was to keep the state clean at the most-effective rate.
He urged members of the public in the different communities to support the government’s programme and not to indulge in dumping refuse on the streets.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that all efforts to get the striking waste disposal contractors to comment proved abortive. (NAN)