Have you ever had pure water? If you’re Nigerian, have lived or visited, or are familiar with life in the nation, you definitely know about
pure water. Pure water, the convenient sachet of water, about 500ml or so, sold on the streets and in various shops. The story is that pure water sale & use became popular in the 1990s as a cheaper and easily accessible alternative to bottled water. More than 2 decades later, pure water remains very much a part of the Nigerian culture and continues to offer the convenience of a cheap thirst quencher even in the most remote rural area. While offering convenience, pure water has contributed to a major ill that looms over our communities: Improper waste disposal. Or is it the pure water’s fault?
Over the weekend, NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) aired a program that addressed sanitation in Abuja, particularly addressing pure water sachet disposal. People were interviewed and some of the comments made me lower my head in shame. A lady at Wuse Market was asked about how she disposed of empty pure water sachets and she unabashedly stated that she threw it anywhere she happened to be at the moment, unless of course it was sanitation day at the market. Even at that, she alluded to the FACT that it was the sanitation workers’ responsibility to ensure that waste was properly disposed. Several commuters told the reporter that in the buses (public transport), there were waste baskets provided, and they would dispose of empty pure water sachets there. But once out of the bus, if there was no nearby trash container, the sachets would be dropped anywhere. As one man put it, it was a “waste of time” to walk all the way to the trash disposal when he could easily drop it anywhere after all the place was a garage.
For those not familiar with a garage in the Nigerian setting, is typically a public transport park or station and these places often have small shops and street hawkers. It could also be a mechanic village where several auto mechanics set up shop; these also have small shops and street hawkers. Either way, this man’s assumption that because it was a garage, he could dump trash anywhere, was a reflection of the lack of social responsibility that has caused so much harm in our society.
In light of these responses given by everyday people on the streets of Abuja, who then do we blame for poor sanitation and improper waste disposal in not only the capital city, but in many cities and towns in the nation? Blame it on the government? Have you ever thrown a banana peel out of the window of a moving vehicle? Have you ever spat on the street and walked on by? How about when you looked left and right then quickly dumped that half empty sachet of pure water by the tire of the bus before moving on quickly to avoid being seen? And for those of you who live outside Nigeria, did you make sure that empty can of juice or 5hr energy made it into the recycle bin before moving on? What have you done today?
Photo credits: Information Nigeria (http://www.informationng.com/tag/nafdac)