By: Abdulrasheed Akere
On Thursday, May 18, 2023 after returning from the morning lecture, Abdulbasit Yusuf was staring pitifully at some little children scavenging his hostel’s dumping site. From his face, it’s easy to observe that he feels sorry for the ignorant children. When he was questioned on why his hostel and the nearby hostels dump refuse in the open place, his response was that their landlord did not provide them with a trash bin and they have no other option than to dispose of their wastes there.
This reporter learned that when the refuse is much in the opened dumping site, some students used to volunteer to burn it. “You won’t like to pass through the dumping site when they are burning the refuse because they do set fire on the burnable and unburnable refuse together. The smoke from the burning usually makes the atmosphere toxic,” said Abdulbasit.
The management of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS) employs cleaners that keep the campus and school hostels clean. Also, trash bins that have ‘keep UDUS clean’ written on them are placed across the faculties for proper waste disposal. But no bins are provided at private hostels, school and hostel’s mini-marts which gives rise to improper waste disposal. Students residing in private hostels in Benji, Shama among others and business owners at the mini-marts decided to dispose of wastes openly.
Abdulbasit pleaded to the management to also provide bins for private hostels. “The landlords did not care about this stuff, the management should make provision for us since we are also in the school environment. If bins are placed in strategic places, we will be obliged to make use of them, if not, students we have no option than to continue disposing of refuse wrongly,” he explained.
Another Private Hostel Disposes Indiscriminately
A visit to a private hostel, popularly known as 80K hostel in Benji area revealed how students dump refuse in different corners of the compound. Flies were seen flying around the waste dumped on the water way and cemented holes in the compound. The hostel which entails both male and female students appeared untidy, dirty, stinky and unhealthy.
In an interview with a resident of the hostel, Ola Kareem, a 400 level student of Sociology, bemoaned the state of the hostel environment. He blamed the landlord and caretaker for not providing them with waste bins. “They (landlord and caretaker) are collecting hostel rent from us, so they should care for us,” he said.
Ola told PEN PRESS that, “When the dirty and odor is too much, it’s students that used to pay Yaro boys to clean the environment.”
Not Only the Hostels
The business owners at the university’s mini-marts also engaged in disposing waste to an open place around their shops. Some people, especially the little children, used the open dumping site for open defecation. It was observed that foodstuff sellers always leave their goods such as Rice, Beans, Garri just to mention but the few, opened to attract customers, whereas heavy wind carries sands and light wastes from the dumping site around the environment.
A 300-level student of the Education Foundation department, Abdulrasaq Mustapha recounted how he found sands and pieces of stones in some cups of rice and Garri he bought from one of the shops at the mini-mart. “I have stopped buying foodstuffs from them unless I don’t have an option,” he stated. He implored the management to take action on it because it’s located inside the school.
“I used to eat at the mini-mart but in a restaurant that is far from the dumping site and I will check the environment very well before eating,” he added. Abdulrasaq said that the chemist and pharmaceutical shops in the mini-mart should be held responsible for the used syringes and some other clinical wastes found on different dumping sites around the mini-mart.
More Health Threats
At the university’s clinic on Thursday, the environment was neat and clean but the cleaners dumped most of the waste collected from the clinic behind the fence. The clinic’s Director of Health, Dr. Ibrahim Umar said that immediately he noticed the improper waste disposal around the hospital fence, he informed the man in charge of it but he didn’t know that they hadn’t stopped the act.
He summoned the man in charge of the waste, Mallam Umar Muhammad Sheu and charged him to gather his colleagues in order to clear the wastes. “You know I have talked about this before, so talk to your people to burn the refuse and stop dumping anything there, henceforth they should use the motorable dustbin that will take it away from the clinic,” Dr. Ibrahim told the man.
Mallam Umar assured that, “the director has given an order and we will try to take action in the coming week.”
The university’s Dean of Students Affair, Professor Umar Aliyu, expressed displeasure over the improper waste disposal around the mini-marts. “The business owners need to be sensitized on the importance of proper waste management and the menace of improper waste disposal,” said the Dean.
He noted that the school authority can provide them a garbage point that will be far from the mini-mart and fence it with blocks so as to have a clean environment.
The CEO of Securecycle Environmental and Climate Change Initiative, Emmanuel Kilaso, explained that, “Improper waste disposal can lead to environmental pollution. When waste is not disposed off properly, it can contaminate soil, water bodies, and the surrounding environment. This pollution can harm ecosystems, disrupt the natural balance, and negatively impact plant and animal life.
“Improper waste disposal creates breeding grounds for pests, such as rodents and insects, which can spread diseases. It can also attract stray animals, posing a risk of animal bites and associated infections. Additionally, if waste contains hazardous materials, improper disposal can result in the release of toxic substances that can harm human health.
“Accumulated waste emits foul odors, making the campus environment unpleasant for students, staff, and visitors. The presence of waste can also attract flies, rats, and other vermin, leading to unhygienic conditions that compromise the overall comfort and well-being of individuals on campus.”
He added that, “Burning of refuse poses serious negative effects. It releases harmful gases and pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution. It can also cause uncontrolled fires, posing a risk to nearby structures, vegetation, and endangering the safety of individuals on campus.
Mr. Kilaso analyzed that improperly disposed waste can harbor disease-causing pathogens. When students come into contact with the contaminated waste, either directly or indirectly, they risk contracting diseases such as gastrointestinal infections, respiratory illnesses, skin infections, and other communicable diseases.
“Burning of refuse releases toxic fumes and particles into the air. Inhalation of these pollutants can trigger allergies, respiratory problems, and exacerbate existing respiratory conditions like asthma, leading to discomfort and potential long-term health complications. Living or studying in an environment with indiscriminate waste disposal can have a negative psychological impact on students. It can contribute to feelings of unease, stress, and discomfort, which can affect their overall well-being, concentration, and academic performance,” Mr. Kilaso told PEN PRESS.
“Proper waste disposal practices, promoting recycling initiatives, providing adequate waste management infrastructure, and raising awareness about the consequences of improper waste disposal are essential steps to ensure a healthy and conducive environment for students’ well-being on campus,” he concluded.
THE REPORTER : Abdulrasheed Akere is a 300-level student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS). He can be reached via email@example.com