Kano Interview Series (7)
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
Refuse Management and Sanitation Board
One of the areas where the present administration has recorded a glaring success is in refuse disposal in Kano and its environs. I used to complain so much about the rampant refuse that littered the streets of Kano. During my week long stay in the city, it was really difficult to come across the old heaps of refuse anymore. This made me look for the Director of the state Refuse Management and Sanitation Board (REMASAB), Engr. Abdullahi Shehu Bichi. It was a Saturday evening, and he was in his home town, Bichi. We planned to meet him there but he was kind enough to come all the way to Mil Tara (9th Mile) where we met with him and conducted this interview at dusk.
Me: Sir, can you introduce yourself to my readers?
Director: I am Engineer Abdullahi Shehu Bichi, the Director of Refuse Management and Sanitation Board, the body responsible for managing refuse in the state.
Me: I have gone round the town to see if I can come across a single mound of refuse as I used to see any time visit it in the past. Kano streets are neat now. To me, this is not only impressive but wonderful. I know refuse disposal is one of the most difficult jobs any government would undertake. Every second, refuse is accumulating. In Kano, it is not only the refuse of the residents in the city but also of the thousands of people who troop into the town daily from surrounding countries and states. Briefly tell us, please, for my benefit and that of my readers and of course your counterparts in other states, the secret behind your success.
Director: As you said, you have visited Kano and you haven’t found pyramids of refuse anymore. Thank God, this is a government concerned with the problems of its citizens. Refuse is a problem once it isn’t placed where it should be and evacuated on time. When he assumed office, the Governor directed us to do our best to clear the entire refuse in three days. That was done. He headed the operation until the entire refuse was evacuated.
After that, there used to be 250 spots where this refuse was deposited in the city, but since the initial evacuation, we never allowed the refuse to accumulate again. We are in constant evacuation. And where the refuse should not be dumped, we cancelled 100 unsuitable spots. This way, the spots for dumping refuse are now reduced from the 250 we inherited to just 150.
The secret, as you demanded to know, is simple. Once you have a government that is committed to the welfare of its people, you will then need three things. One, vehicles are needed for refuse disposal. We have repaired the ones we inherited and received the delivery of new ones. We have kept them in constant serviceable condition since the repairs. Two, there has never been a time when we run short of diesel for more than an hour or two. Government has constantly provided sufficient funds for that. Three, you need hardworking personnel. We work hard in the mornings and nights especially, when the streets are empty. You know Kano is a commercial city, so its streets are congested during the day.
Me: In the end, what call would you like to make to the general public, given that your work needs its full cooperation? Also what advice do you have for your counterparts in other states? Then, finally, what are your future plans, now that you have perfected the evacuation process?
Director: I will start with the advice to my counterparts in other states. They must understand that they are servants of the people. Governments today are elected to serve the public. In our case, we are lucky to have a governor that has imbibed this concept and practices it well. Waste accumulation is among the major worries of our people. Other governors should take a queue from him. Office is not for leisure, but for service. Once they do this, their states will be clean and developing.
We always call on our citizens to deposit their waste in approved areas. This will enable us evacuate it quickly. That is why we provided the public with containers all over the city such that they can throw in whatever little waste they hold as they go about their daily businesses. This has contributed immensely to our success. We are grateful to people for their constant cooperation.
In the end, regarding the future, I would like to say that we have gone far with the idea of recycling this waste. The government is discussing with multinational waste recycling companies for the benefit of our people. We are working towards its takeoff before the end of our term in office.
Me. Okay. Thank you sir and may God bless you.
Director: I am also grateful. Thank you.
9 June 2012