Prior to the coming on board of the Malam Nasir el-Rufai administration in Kaduna State, the state was in a sorry environmental condition with residents disposing their wastes indiscriminately in the streets and major roads within the metropolis and environs.
Many of the drainages in the state capital were blocked by refuse, leading to flooding and emergence of diseases as a result of contaminated rivers. Governor el-Rufai upon assumption of office went into partnership with a waste management expert company ZL Global Alliance (Nigeria) for the collection of waste and disposing same in accordance with international best practices. It was also agreed that the partnership was going to help generate revenue for the state. When the contract terms where consummated the environmental expert as a way of wooing people to properly dispose their waste launched the waste to cash project- a situation where people were paid in exchange for their waste. The project got a lot of commendations as both young and old got themselves busy collecting even neighbours waste to earn themselves some money.
A beneficiary of the waste to cash project, Hajiya Maimuna Suleiman said, “We are happy with this initiative by the state government, now rather than disposing our waste indiscriminately, we now give it out for cash, this is a good development,” she said.
Speaking with the managing director of ZL Global Alliance Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Abiola Bashorun on the essence of the waste to cash project, she said it was in recognition of the governors commitment to keeping the state clean, green and healthy. According to her, the ‘waste to cash’ initiative is meant to encourage the people to turn in their waste in exchange for cash, emphasizing that “Under the scheme, we shall be paying N1.00 per kilogramme of waste. We however expect a minimum of 10 to 25kg per lot.
“The state government under the initiative wants to take its commitment to get job and wealth creation a notch higher. The state government has found out that it has a large population of youths and women who are either unemployed or under-employed,” she explained. The programme kicked off on September 14, 2016 IN the two major cities of Kaduna and Zaria, then Kafanchan and other towns.
She further disclosed that ZL Global Alliance and the international partners are investing over $1billion into the ‘Waste to Wealth’ initiative across states in Nigeria and assured that “With the success story in Kaduna, we hope to replicate same in other places in the nearest future. Since we came on board in Kaduna, we have embarked on massive evacuation of dump sites, street and drainage cleaning as well as waste collection.
“Studies have shown that about 2.6billion people are living without access to improved sanitation services while at least 40% of Africans (Nigerians inclusive) do not have access to basic sanitation and hygiene services,” she noted.
Noting further, the importance of the project, Mrs Bashorun explained that under the initiative, the state government wants to take its commitment to get job and wealth creation a notch higher in view of its large population of youths and women who are either unemployed or under-employed.
“It is in the light of this that ZL Global Alliance (Nigeria) limited is working with the requisite expertise and competencies to support the Kaduna State Government and the local authorities to clean up cities and towns, improve the environmental quality and consequently improve the economy of the state because it is only a healthy people that can birth a healthy community, state or nation.
“We are in the business of engendering a prosperous Kaduna State by promoting a green, clean and healthy environment in Kaduna State,” adding that the almajiri rather than going begging for arms can make money by collecting waste in exchange for cash.
The waste to cash initiative was not meant to be sustained on a daily basis but might be on a monthly basis particularly on sanitation days depending on availability of resources, the essence was largely to encourage people even though that was not part of the contract.
Again, following the engagement of the waste management expert, the activities of independent waste collectors who were only generating income for themselves without remitting any to the state government and with the bad environmental conditions still the same were outlawed by the state government. They were subsequently ordered to register with ZL Global Alliance Nigeria Limited.
Also flooding that has always destroyed houses and properties and often with attendant casualties is again almost a thing of the past in Kaduna State with the engagement of the environmental expert company, which took the bull by the horn and embarked on the desilting of Kaduna River to allow free flow of water from across the city into River Kaduna thereby preventing perennial flood, cholera, malaria as well as having a healthier aquatic environment. At the commencement of the desilting of the rivers, Governor el-Rufai, represented by the then commissioner, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Shehu Balarabe Giwa, said the administration will continue to execute developmental and sustainable projects that will improve the quality of life and economy of people resident in the state.
According to him, “After careful study of Kaduna environment including its vegetation and rivers, the state government came up with the idea of desilting the smaller rivers and canals that have direct link into River Kaduna so water can flow freely.
“The waste management company the state government employed has been saddled with the responsibility of desilting the river and has worked round the clock within the period they have been engaged desilting from Tudun Wada, Kaduna North and terminated at Nassarawa, Kakuri in Kaduna South local government area of the state.
“This will address most ailments that ab-initio associated with stagnant water like malaria and cholera, check flood and improve quality of aquatic life. We have no regret working with ZL Global Alliance Nigeria Limited.
“It is however important that the good people of Kaduna State especially those who live at flood prone areas join hand with government by way of keeping their waste in bags and discourage all manners of indiscriminate dumping of refuse”, he said.
So far, the engagement of the environmental expert has drastically helped in the area of job creation in the state as no fewer than 4600 workers are presently engaged across the three senatorial districts of the state including the physically-challenged persons who have been given the opportunity to exhibit ability in their disability.
The managing director of the waste managers said, the need to give People Living With Disabilities (PLWD) a sense of belonging cannot be over-emphasised.
“So far, we have engaged over 30 of the people with disabilities in Kaduna as part of our workforce and we have plans to employ more of them in all the zones of the state.
“We have plans to employ no fewer than four hundred on the long run. The effort is basically to ensure that they have means of livelihood and be beneficial to themselves and the larger society. Those already employed are undergoing training on the job expectations and considering their physical challenges, they will be requiring special working skills and tools for them to work effectively and efficiently and efforts towards achieving that is at advance stages.
“We are presently in discussion with heads of their colonies to get details of their members who are ready to work. At the moment, we have engaged over 30 of the physically-challenged people in Kaduna and plans are under way to engage more of them in Zaria and Kafanchan, this is in line with our physically-challenged recruitment programme.
“The interesting thing is that we pay them same salaries like their able counterparts without any form of discrimination and they are happy for it.”
She expressed commitment of the organisation towards putting smiles on the faces of the less-privileged in the society.
In the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR) the ZL Global Alliance Nigeria Limited has also contributed their quota to communities within the state, for instance, evacuation of dump sites beside LEA School Badarawa changed the place to a playground and assistance in the renovation of the school; same was done in SMC Ungwa Dosa, also in Zaria and Kafanchan.
Some roundabouts in the state were a sorry site, and the organization our correspondent gathered took it upon themselves to beautify some of them within the metropolis and made them green, ten of such roundabouts it was learnt were selected as sample for renovation though work has stagnated on them due a stop work order. Meanwhile, residents of the state have expressed displeasure over the stoppage of what they described as a good work.
According to Mr James Alkali “we saw that the roundabouts where wearing a new look and we were happy only to discover that work stopped abruptly and today the roundabouts are in a sorry state. We hope the government can engage the people that started the beautification to continue the good job they were doing.”
The people of the state are happy that the Kaduna State government-ZL Global Alliance Nigeria Limited partnership is working, even as the people have embraced a change of attitude in the disposal of their waste while the company continues to receive judos for ensuring a cleaner, safer and greener Kaduna State.