Andy Essiet , Calabar
Refuse will soon be a thing of the past in Calabar as the Cross River state government has signed a multi-million dollar contract with a French firm to recycle waste for electricity and other things in the state
Details of the contract were not given but the General Manager of the State Waste Management Agency, Mr. Solomon Oko at weekend said, “we carried out a market survey for 17 months. From February 2021 to July 2022. We have submitted the report. The governor has approved the contract and they (the French company) have gone back to France to apply for financial approval for them to move to the site. We have allocated land to them along Idundun in Akpabuyo local government area of the state”.
However, Oko said the company is eager to start as “they have gone back to conclude their agreement because they are looking for where to invest their money. The contract is signed on percentage because they are selling to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) which is the major up taker. They have the facility and the network. It is a tripartite arrangement. PHCN will distribute, the firm will generate and the state provides the enabling environment. I think the Ministry of Finance is doing something in that direction while the (PPP) is involved. There is synergy. It runs into millions of dollars. They have gone to sign bonds with banks and other stakeholders. The banks will be involved even the incoming government will be involved too. It is renewable.
He said the French firm will “begin to take waste to the site to convert to energy. It is a waste to energy project. To provide light for Calabar. That is the aim of the project. When we start the project , there shall be no waste on the road again. We are doing enumeration now. We are going to provide a rolling bin labelled to every household in Calabar. Trucks will be moving from streets to streets collecting wastes. We will not need the waste bin we are keeping on the roads again. What we have at the Lemna dump site is a complete waste because there is no segregation. Now we are going to do segregation from the point of collection. The labelled bin may be for different types of refuse”.
On whether the project will attract tarrif on the people, he said, “so which one is better tariff and we light to boost the economy or no tariff, no light and refuse everywhere? There will be employment, security, increase in business and others and once there is steady power supply the economy will improve”.
On current refuse challenges, Oko said, “it is the challenge we had at the dump site. Where we dump our waste was filled. It was a major challenge and we were working day and night to make sure we restore evacuation. We have done that. We have fixed the dump site and we have started evacuation. The city has started taking its shape again. This is one of our flash points, the Otop Abasi street. Like Abua, Ekpo Eyo streets. We have tackled all those other flash points.
“People have started passing because we have cleared the road in Otop Abasi. I assure you each time I talk to the press I like to talk to residents and Cross Riverians too. The attitude of our people as per how we dump our refuse is a problem too. There is a bin in all the flash points across the City of Calabar. They will leave the bin and prefer to dump their refuse on the road. We normally use the skip bin for the trucks to come and lift them to the dump site. But when the refuse are heaped on the road, it takes a lot of time to get them removed. I appeal to residents to ensure that they dump their refuse into the bin instead of dumping them on the road. Again activities of scavengers not helping. These scavengers are going round vandalising our bins in our flash points. We distributed over 100 bins in January this year, as I speak if you go round you will not see up to 50 bins now. There is penalty for offenders as we have been allocated Court 9 Sanitation Court for this purpose. The penalty for violation is five months imprisonment or a fine of #100,000”.
Oko decried the high cost of diesel which makes refuse collection very expensive saying, “this is harvest season, there are lots of food in the market, we have lots of wastes as we are clearing this place, in the next few days it is filled again.. We are trying to increase the manpower because of the increase in the generation of waste. When this contract was awarded a litre of diesel was N180 and now it is N800 and a truck that we used to diesel per day used to be N9,000 but now it is N40,000 This is affecting the operations too. Every body wants to cut corners and make profit. Today the price of diesel is affecting the operations. Everything has gone up, lubricant, tyres etc.