Representatives of some of development organisations under the Zero Waste Ambassadors in Akwa Ibom State addressing a press conference ahead of World Clean-up day 2023.

Abasifreke Effiong

Zero Waste Ambassadors, a cluster of civil society organisations working on wastes management and other environmental issues in Akwa Ibom State, have announced plans to hold a clean-up exercise in Uyo on Saturday 16th September to mark the 2023 world clean-up day.

The exercise aimed to encourage community action to wastes management, promote the culture of wastes segregation and recycling as well as discourage the harmful practice of indiscriminate disposal of wastes in the State, will feature and brand audit.

At a joint press conference in Uyo, the cluster called on residents of the State to join the clean-up exercise by 7a.m, stating that plastic waste audit is intended to know which brands and products produce the most plastic wastes in the State with a view to getting them involved in effort at reduction of waste.

“We need to know the brands that pollute our environment the most. We want to identify the ones with the highest plastic waste, so that we can engage these brands. We will write to them and see how they can be involved in our plans to reduce plastic waste, one of which is reducing single use plastic containers”.

The cluster said though Akwa Ibom has been named the cleanest State in Nigeria for three years consecutively, the prevailing culture of indiscriminate disposal of wastes by residents of the State calls for action, adding that current wastes management system in the State which focuses more on wastes evacuation was not sustainable.

According to the cluster, “Globally, we are talking about wastes segregation, recycling and zero wastes. We have come to the stage in Akwa Ibom where we need to integrate the community into the waste management system so that we can build a robust culture where people and community take responsibility for managing their wastes. Clean-up is best when it is collaborative.”

The cluster called on the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Wastes Management Agency to be opened and accountable to the people, claiming that the agency runs a closed door policy, does not respond to public enquiries including genuine efforts at collaborations by development partners.

“We call on AKSEPWMA to have a human face. You cannot be managing our wastes and not be accountable to the citizens. The agency should have regular interface with the citizens, civil society organisations, and other key players in the sector. We call on the Chairman of the agency to reply messages, letters and respond to calls. There is need for collaboration.”

READ: Int’l Youth Day: Clement Isong Foundation holds training on green skills for youth

Representatives of some organisations in the cluster, Ubong Matthew from Plasticultured, Faith Paulinus from Policy Alert, Etia Nwaenang and Mbetobong John from Well of Science, and Ikemesit Utuk from She is Sheep Association, said they are working collaboratively to ensure at least five percent participation of Akwa Ibom residents in the 2023 world clean-up exercise.

They commended residents of Ikot Abasi street in Uyo, for coming together to manage what was a troubling waste situation in the area, saying that community approach to waste management is one of the best practices that should be promoted to integrate people into the waste management system to enhance Akwa Ibom’s status as the cleanest State in Nigeria.

They called for an effective recycling system in Akwa Ibom State.

The Dune learnt that Zero Waste Ambassadors will be working with clean-up clubs and other partners at designated locations including Ikot Abasi street, University of Uyo, Akpan Ndem and Itam markets, during the clean-up Uyo exercise on Saturday.

Members of the public who will participate in the exercise at other locations are encouraged to take photos and post them on social media with either of the hashtags #CleanUpUyo, #PlasticAudit, #BrandAudit, #WorldCleanUpDay23.