The Trade Union Congress (TUC), Rivers State Council has described the proposed Waste Management Law in the State as tyrannical and undemocratic.
The TUC Chairman in Rivers State, Comrd. Chika Onuegbu stated this in Port Harcourt in a chat with journalists during public hearing on the Waste Management Bill.
Comrd. Onuegbu was particularly irked by sections 53(2) of the bill which stipulates N500,000 as penalty for persons who urinate along the street, as well as getting approval on waste management before somebody organizes a social function like wedding.
The labour leader said everything should be done to make Nigerians forget the infamous days of late General Sanni Abacha regime during the military era in the country. The chairman said he wondered how many well- to- do persons that are seen urinating on the streets, stressing that the law is meant to punish and jail poor Rivers People. He further argued that seeking approval before organizing social functions is a way to enslave the citizens of the country. The TUC Boss therefore called for the expunge of these obnoxious sections of the bill, if the proposed law will make meaning and see the light of the day.
Onuegbu however lauded the spirit behind the bill, emphasizing that the target should be to keep the state clean instead of punishment or penalty as it is presently constituted.
The Sole Administrator ,Rivers State Environmental Sanitation Authority, Mr Ade Ogun in his remarks said the problem of the Agency was caused by the its attachment to the Ministry of Environment, insisting that the only solution to the poor performance of the body is autonomy.
Ogun cited the inability of the Environment Ministry to provide dumping sites for the Authority as one of the numerous areas the Ministry has failed on its responsibilities, which he said has impacted negatively on the Authority’s operations.
The chairman House Committee on Environment, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Victoria Nyeche, member representing Port Harcourt 1 Constituency said the bill was meant to create new Sanitation Authority, following the repeal of the previous law. Nyeche said since the law is to serve the public, it has become necessary to get the input of the people, hence the public hearing. She charged the participants to make useful inputs, assuring that their contributions will be respected in the report the committee will submit to the Assembly for consideration.
The Environment Commissioner in the state, Dr Nyema Weli had said that for the Sanitation Authority to operate effectively, it must be regulated or controlled by the ministry. He dismissed claims by the Sole Administrator that the Authority’s plight was caused by the ministry.###