Speaking at the occasion, Governor Soludo, who was flanked by his Deputy, Onyekachukwu Ibezim, said that the 21 Local Government Areas of the State, would follow suit by flagging off theirs as soon as possible, adding that communities and individuals are expected to flag off theirs at their respective homes and villages after the local governments must have finished theirs.
He said that trees should be planted by the side of the roads to save the environment and prevent erosion menace that has caused loss of lives and properties, during rainy seasons.
Also speaking, the chairman of Ochanja Central market which hosted the ceremony, Chief Bonaventure Muo, said that the flag-off by the Governor was a welcome development as many containers have fallen on Iweka road as they headed to Onitsha Main market.
He exonerated the market from flooding the entire environment with refuse adding that the refuse comes from those outside the market that he is not in control of.
“Outside the market, we are not in control and the touts only operate in the environment and not within our market. Governor has said that a task force should be set up immediately to arrest the touts who collect illegal revenues,” he affirmed.
Reacting, the President-General of Anambra State Amalgamated Traders’ Association, ASMATA, Chief Humphrey Anuna, expressed satisfaction with the flag off of the desilting of drainages by Governor Soludo’, adding that the Governor has come to better the welfare of the people.
“He has come to better the condition of the people, especially on health issues. The refuse is being evacuated as I directed the traders before the Governor now flagged off the desilting of the drainages,” he hinted.
Also on tree planting he said it would help as trees produce oxygen for us coupled with the fact that it helps to checkmate erosion menace.
On the illegal erection of shops especially on drainages he said his task force, the Make-way team, would monitor the illegal structures and make a necessary report to Government.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Felix Odumegwu, stressed the need for a clean Anambra State recalling that recently there was flooding following the recent rainfall.
“Sometimes there is loss of lives and properties that are unquantifiable. We have to stop them from occurring. Some drainages have not been de-silted for years and that is what we are doing, to desilt them for the free flow of flood.
“We also ban trading along the roads because most of their wastes later found their way back to the drainages after they were de-silted.
Those who ignore the directive should be taken to court,” he vowed.
He regretted that some people deliberately disobeyed the law saying that nothing would happen to point out that the Ministry of Environment will not take that from them
He stressed the need to restore the lost glory of Onitsha and advised those who used concrete culverts as bridges across the gutters to their shops to remove them, warning that they should be made to pay for such removal if it is done by the government.
In his contribution, the Managing Director, MD, Anambra State Waste Management Authority, Chief Mike Ozoemena, stressed that the cleanliness of the environment is a priority to avoid sickness.
“The first thing you give people is security and cleanliness and without cleanliness, people will not be healthy as health is wealth. If you go around you see illegal buildings people are putting up. People give bribes and they build anything.
“If you see all the blocked drainages, you will see people putting up shops on them, what I ask is if there is any epidemic here before you get to Awka, where we are, it would have killed a lot of people, but we don’t want that,” he prayed.
Earlier, the chairman of Onitsha North Local Government Area, Hon. Onochie Ozoma, stated that Governor Soludo’ was doing the needful adding that his priority is to clean Anambra State.
He said that with the flag off of desilting the drainages, “there will no longer be indiscriminate dumping of refuse in Onitsha. Vehicles should have their little dustbins for passengers to put their refuse.,” he said.
“There should not be any more trading on the roads, building on top of culverts, and throwing refuse inside the drainages. Maybe because of population, people are no longer interested in hygiene,” he stated.