Apart from easing traffic flow in cities, roundabouts also serve historical purposes. Bauchi State has a number of such structures constructed across its capital, with various statues symbolising the rich cultural heritage of the ancient city. The roundabouts also host numerous government billboards and posters of politicians welcoming everyone into the town, as well as those passing through Bauchi metropolis to other places.
Various roundabouts in Bauchi metropolis, which were built to ease traffic and beautify the state capital, now serve as public toilets to many residents, especially traders, labourers, taxi drivers, tricycle and okada riders, as well as beggars and almajirai.
Our correspondent who went round the metropolis observed that people defecated at almost all the roundabouts in the city, but the worst hit are Central Market and Wunti roundabouts, where thousands of people go to earn their daily bread.
The trend is so bad that residents defecate openly in daylight without shame.
Part of Central Markey Roundabout
The influx of people displaced from the North-East as a result of the spate of insecurity in the country, as well as victims of Plateau crisis who relocated to the city, also worsens the situation.
This ugly trend has, therefore, polluted the serene environment and atmosphere in the state capital, exposing residents to health hazards.
A trader close to the Central Market roundabout, Garba Saidu, said, “Whenever I want to pass the roundabout, I put on a facemask or use my fingers to block my nose so as not to inhale the bad smell. It becomes worse when we witness the first rainfall of the season. I pray and hope the government would tackle the menace to avert the breakdown of an epidemic in the city.’’
Another trader, Alhaji Umar Yusuf said, “Sometimes you can see dozens of them defecating in daylight without shame. Whenever I want to pass through the roundabout I close my nose because of the terrible smell in the area.’’
A businessman at Wunti roundabout, Mohammed Manasa, told Daily Trust Saturday that the state government should be blamed for allowing the trend to continue for a long time.
“Many people don’t know that open defecation is not good because of health harzard and pollution of the environment. Some people don’t even know that it is prohibited to defecate in public. There is the need for the government to use local media to enlighten the people against this bad practice,’’ he said.
Another shop owner at Wunti roundabout, Nasir Shuaibu, attributed the ugly trend to lack of public toilets within the metropolis, especially in Wunti and Laushi markets, as well as all the mini motor parks within the city centre.
“Thousands of people within the state capital and those from other local government areas and neighbouring states come to Wunti everyday for commercial activities. And whoever is pressed and cannot see any public toilet around will have no option than to find a place to urinate or defecate.
“The state government and relevant stakeholders should provide modern public toilets around the major market in the metropolis. They should barricade the roundabouts to prevent people from going there to defecate. This is because even if you prosecute perpetrators, the trend cannot stop. Majority of the people defecate at night,’’ Shuaibu said
When contacted, the chairman of Bauch Central Market, Alhaji Adamu Speaker, said the trend was worrisome. He added that the market union had made efforts to contribute money for sanitation.
“We contributed money and evacuated all the waste in the drains surrounding the market, up to the roundabout. We have concluded plans to sanitise the roundabout and barricade the area with iron wire to prevent people from entering there,’’ he said, adding that the union would continue to support the state government in sanitising not only the roundabouts but market surroundings and the state in general.
In reaction to defecation in public places in the metropolis, the Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA) said it would prosecute perpetrators.
The director-general of the agency, Dr Ibrahim Kabir Gamawa, who disclosed this last Saturday during the monthly sanitation exercise in the state, said they had met with the relevant stakeholders and security agencies on how to tackle open defecation, especially in Bauchi metropolis and others.
“We are embarking on a visit to those affected areas to see for ourselves. This is based on the complaint received from the community against open defecation at our major roundabouts in the metropolis.
“We have met with the necessary stakeholders and security agencies in the state on this ugly development.
The agency has the mandate to ensure the hygiene and safety of all the environments in the state and to arrest and punish those found wanting. The law against open defecation is already in existence, so I am advising the general public to desist from such habit,’’ he said.
He warned that henceforth, anyone arrested for open defecation in the state would be prosecuted according to the laws of the state.
Another part of the Yandoka Roundabout
An environmentalist and lecturer in the Department of Environmental Management Technology, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Professor Dije Bala Ibrahim, described the trend as indecent, saying you can’t separate the environment from man.
“Decency is very important. It is very indecent for somebody to defecate on a roundabout. It sends offensive smells around the area,’’ she noted, adding that it has a lot of negative effects on the people’s health.
She also said some of the people who defecate at roundabouts had medical problems, and advised the state government to provide public toilets in the affected areas.
“The best thing government and nongovernmental organisations should do is to provide public toilets, which are important in places with congestion of people. The toilets don’t have to be free. A little amount can be charged for individuals to ease themselves. Individuals and nongovernmental organisations can do it as a source of income. Of recent, we have a lot of technologies that can be used to evacuate of the waste easily.
“Roundabouts are constructed to beautify the town, control vehicular traffic etc,’’ she added.
A water sanitation and hygiene analyst, David Ayodele, lamented that despite efforts by stakeholders and the government to keep the environment clean, some residents had continued to defecate indiscriminately.
“It is highly uncivilised and unhealthy. They are not only defecating at roundabouts but other open places. They do that especially in the night,’’ he said.
He attributed the trend to the indiscriminate disposal of waste at the roundabouts, saying when people notice that there is no refuse or waste in those places, they will not defecate there.
“Inasmuch as people will not stop open defecation, we will not be able to tackle waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid and the rest. One disturbing part of the menace is the involvement of children who are roaming the areas to scavenge unused plastic bottles. They come in contact with the faeces,’’ he also said.
He appealed to residents, particularly community leaders and health workers to take up the challenge and intensity advocacy against open defecation.