By Wale Ajibade
It is no longer news that members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Ekiti State, South West Nigeria, embarked on an industrial action nearly eight weeks ago to compel the state government to meet some demands they have tabled before it, what is now news is the devastating effects the action is having on water, sanitation and hygiene in communities across the sixteen local government areas of the state.
One would recall that the workers went on strike over the non-payment of the N19,300 ( about $150) new minimum wage to workers, the payment of Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS) and Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) to health workers in the councils among others.
The strike involves workers in the water, environment and sanitation (WES) departments in all the sixteen Local Government Areas in Ekiti state, south west Nigeria.
The sanitation officers and environmental health officers are well-trained professionals monitoring and sustaining good sanitation and neat environment in their rural communities and building the capacity of the rural dwellers on current development on water sanitation and hygiene in their domains.
It is a bad development as heaps of refuse, weedy environment and animal faeces now litter
public places like markets, post offices, palaces, even local government secretariats are not left out.
At Ikole-Ekiti in Ekiti North Senatorial District of the state, heaps of refuse and weedy environment are noticeable at the King’s Market and the post office area.
According to the WES Coordinator in the council, Mr. Niyi Fagbuyiro, the drainage between Oke Jebu and Methodist Hospital in Ikole has been blocked and flooding has now become the order of the day.
Mr. Fagbuyiro said the central market is now oozing out offensive odour and that market women have abandoned the market as a result of the decomposing body of a mad
person near the market, as well as dead domestic animals.
Investigation also revealed that all the markets and drainages are maintained by local government workers if not on strike.
Mrs Toyin Ojo and Mrs Bose Afolabi , who are indigenes of the area, opined that epidemic is looming in the community if the industrial dispute is not quickly resolved.
At Ilejemeje Local Government Area , overgrown weeds, which is a natural harbour for dangerous animals, has taken over the secretariat.
A market woman, Kemi Adeolu, and a student, Tope Abayomi, pointed out that there is open defecation by residents, heaps of uncleared refuse among other poor sanitation behaviours among the people, and that council sanitary inspectors are no where to call the people to order.
In Ekiti South West Local government Area, the popular Banana market at Ilawe Ekiti , a trader John Aruleoba stated that “four of the traders in the market were taken to the nearby clinic recently due to strange ailments as a result of the untidy nature of the market”.
A Banana dealer from the Northern part of the country Hassan Madaki noted that “open defecation by buyers and sellers around the market could cause serious epidemic if not checked”.
At Ikole, in Ekiti North Senatorial District, a primary school teacher Mrs Toyin Ojo argued that “epidemic is imminent if the Industrial dispute between the Local Government Workers and the State Government is not resolved”. While Mrs Bose Afolabi, a market woman who had abandoned her shop in the market due to the offensive odour from the dead body of a mad person said “people’s lives are at risk of communicable diseases if the dead body and those of domestic animals are not removed from the market”.
At Ilejemeje , a student Tope Abayomi painted the ugly situation of sanitation in the area “there is open defecation by residents and heaps of uncleared refuse among other poor sanitary behaviours are common features as a result of the strike”.
All these are noticeable in all the 16 Local Government Areas in Ekiti State as public places like the Local Government Secretariats, Post Office Areas and some King Palaces which are usually cleared by the Local Government Workers have been over grown by weeds and harboured reptiles.
The WES Coordinator, Mr. Michael Adebisi, emphasised that lack of close monitoring of water points for adequate maintenance has led to cases of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea.