By Ikuru Lizzy
Port – Harcourt, Feb. 5, 2021 Mr Benson Abu, a waste management expert in Rivers State, says his company has laid off 60 per cent of its workers due to the COVID -19 pandemic.
Abu, the Managing Director of CAPS Integrated Services Limited, told newsmen in Port Harcourt on Thursday that the pandemic had greatly slowed down business for private waste management companies.
‘When you have patronage, you definitely would need more workers, but because we were not treated as essential workers during the pandemic, we were constrained.
” And, waste management during the period became a duty of the government.
“If the staff were no longer going to work, why then should they be retained.
“Right now, CAPS Integrated Services has recorded over 60 per cent cut down on its work force, this indeed has dealt a negative blow on affected households,” he said.
Abu attributed slow pace of business in the waste management sub – sector to failure of the state to adequately recognize waste management practitioners as essential workers.
“During the lockdown, those of us in the private sector, under the professional body, ‘Waste Management Society of Nigeria’ did make some efforts regarding exemption.
“We even collated names of private waste managers and forwarded same to the government with a view of securing exemption during the lockdown but sadly none on the list was given permit to move around.
“Only a handful of members, through the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) were permitted to operate at that time and till date. We have continued to suffer the consequences of this hitch,” he said.
Abu also said that high cost of government operational permits and licenses had also continued to deter proffessionals from investing in the sector.
“These operational permits are necessary authorization for legitimate practice in the sector yet, the rates are continually being increased by relevant authorities.
“The state Ministry of Environment, RIWAMA, and even the Federal Ministry of Environment and its affiliate agencies, are all issuers of these documents.
“This had over time constituted a huge financial burden which runs into millions of naira,” he added.
The waste management expert advised that every government should strive to achieve a robust waste management scheme.
However, Abu observed that the sector could only achieve great results if managed by professionals rather than politicians