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Health officers instruct roadside traders to clean up their act or move

1 June 2022
Reading time: 4 minutes

As the rainy season starts, environmental health officers in Borno State have started the mammoth task of clearing drainage systems and waterways to avoid flooding and the spread of water-borne diseases.

But not everyone is keen on the idea. Some traders with kiosks along the waterways and drainage systems have been asked to move away and told to stop selling food items, especially, in the immediate environment.

The officers are working under the auspices of Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA).

Some traders told RNI that they had been doing business in the same area for almost 40 years and they had never violated any rules and regulations. They said the government needed to sanitise the places where they worked and to reconstruct dilapidated roadsides and drainage systems.

Trader Ba Mallum said: “These workers from BOSEPA have asked us to leave the place where we have been working for years. Ours is one of the many business activities on the side of Indimi Road. We need to continue so that we can feed our families and sustain our livelihoods. If the government orders us to leave this place, then we don’t have any other option but to obey the order and leave. But, if we leave this place, where should we go and do our business activities?

“We are begging the government to have pity on us, so that we can continue our business activities.”

Mammodu Musa, another trader, said he had been working in the same spot at Indimi Road bus stop in the Suleimanti area for almost 40 years and had never broken any rules and regulations.

“Suddenly these environmental health officers from BOSEPA arrived and told us to shift our business. They told us to remove any garbage in the drainage systems or we would have to leave. We agreed to do so because we want to stay here.

“They did not instruct us to leave the place because they know that if they did that there would be serious reactions from the traders. That’s why they told us we should keep the areas always sanitised to ensure our businesses are safe and clean. We welcome the idea of keeping our businesses sanitised because we sell mostly food items, vegetables, such as cucumber and carrots, and fruits, such as oranges, pineapples and mangoes, among other items,” Musa said.

“But some time ago the state governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, promised to have the dilapidated roadsides and drainage systems reconstructed. He has not done anything about it yet, but we hope he will fulfil his promises so that we can continue doing our business activities in a safe and clean environment.”

Abba Mohammed Sa’idu, an environmental health officer, said: “We are environmental health officers from the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency. We came here to inspect the drainage systems and to ensure that there is nothing blocking the waterways or drains. Selling items above the drains can contaminate the water, which is very dangerous because dirty water can spread diseases.

“We are not here to chase away the traders or to stop them from doing their business activities. We are here to create awareness and to educate them on the dangers of dumping trash or waste into drainage systems and blocking waterways. By contaminating the water, they can exacerbate the danger of people getting infected from water-borne illnesses. It is especially important for those who sell food, such as vegetables and fruits, that the area where they work is kept sanitised.”

Sa’idu said many of the traders cared only about their businesses and were unaware that dumping rubbish into drains and waterways would contaminate water, as well as cause serious health implications not only for themselves but also for their customers.

“That’s why we are here to educate and enlighten them about the dangers and effect of floods which are mainly caused by blocked drains and waterways. Dumping refuse into the drains and blocking waterways must be stopped. We urge all traders not to dump their garbage and to sanitise properly and regularly.

“Indimi Road is only one of many areas we have visited to create public awareness. Three days ago, we did the same in Gwange, Hausari, Bulabulin, Ngomari Costin and Bolori, among other areas in Maiduguri,” Sa’idu said.

“I urge people to give us maximum cooperation by helping us to clear drainage systems and waterways, sanitise their work areas regularly and obey the instructions, rules and regulations put in place by BOSEPA to forestall floods and the outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery, among others, as the rainy season sets in.”


About the author

Elvis Mugisha