Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The abuse drainage and building regulations in Kano

April 24, 2005
By Sani Garba Mohammed
Drainage is a sewerage network that rid away liquid waste from
residential, commercial or industrial areas to either water treatment
plant or a body of water. Drainages help in making all the liquid
waste we generated from one or more of the above areas above, thus
making our environment better, clean, attractive and a desirable to
live.
However, nowadays, the story is different; wherever you go the
opposite is the case. Instead, it is now turn in to dumping depot of
all kind of waste ranging from waste soil, stones, polythene, and
others, relative to the kind of waste being generated at the place
from occupational residue. You hardly find a good and free drainage
within Kano city and it environs. Walking round the city will reveal
to you that our drainages are in shambles, neither authority nor
individuals are playing any roles to clear all the refuse within, are
evacuated. Though some philanthropist are doing it, nevertheless,
immediately the waste is out, it will be allowed there, and later goes
back to it former position. No wonder, in our living environment, we
are being disturbed by noxious and offensive odour as a result,
precisely during rainy season which do even cause flooding.
All our drainages are full with all sort of garbage, nylons and
dangerous waste, but it seem both the government and the public are
paying lip service in making sure the trend is reversed. Is it we did
not value our health any more [considering the danger such pose to
us], or are we big enough to clear our drainage? Everybody [in most
cases] has drainage network from his house to the common drainage that
will convey liquid waste to it final destination, yet to even instruct
his son to clear it, seems impossible.
I learnt that evacuating and maintaining of drainage is a duty of
KASEPPA, but the questions is, does it live up to it expectation, I
doubt much. Many roads within Kano city has no provisions of
drainages, why does KASEPPA allow building in areas where drainage is
not provided, in some areas, building are so overcrowded that drainage
cannot be constructed and it is watching. Many questions need to be
answered by KASEPPA as per drainages and building, but still nothing
to write home about, there are many drainages that need to be
evacuated as they are blocked with many waste, yet nothing is taking
place.
The same thing with building or built environment; housing situation
in Kano state is nothing to write home about, as houses are built
haphazardly, as if no regulations exist. In a bid to meet the
increasing demand of accommodation, property owners and developers
have turned many places into squatters. Due to this, houses are built
without toilet, bathroom etc; people defecate any where [e.g. trade
fair complex field, around old city wall, inside drainages etc] and
channelled their waste water from bath and cooking activities to the
open, thus providing breeding places for mosquitoes and flies as well
causing nuisances to the public.
Conceptually, the built environment includes all of the physical
structures engineered and built by people--the places where we live,
work, and play. These edifices include our homes, workplaces, schools,
parks, and transit arrangements.
Our built environment also affects individual mental health as well as
population-wide well-being. Housing type and quality, neighbourhood
quality, noise, crowding, indoor air quality, and light have all been
linked to personal mental health. Indirectly, the built environment
may influence development and maintenance of socially supportive
networks within a community.
Now houses are built unplanned with little or no paying attention to
the effect that will have on the occupant and the environment. The
factors being considered at site before building like nature of the
soil; moisture content; natural lightning and air movement; location
from possible sources of nuisances; topography of the site etc are now
neglected. Houses are just springing up in any plot whether or not the
place is suitable.

More worrisome is the work of Environmental health officers [EHOs]
hijacked by Engineers and town planners at places like KASEPPA and
others. The aspect that law authorised them [EHO] to look into
include: size of the plot; size and area of the building that is going
into the plot applying the appropriate building regulations; the
dimensions of the rooms to determine their sizes in compliances with
the building regulation; the positions and areas of window and doors
to ensure that the house is properly lighted and ventilated; the
availability and adequacy of sanitary facilities within the structures
e.g. kitchen, toilet, bathroom and store; the total area covered by
the building is checked to ensure that the plot is not overbuilt; the
necessary ,allowance maintained between the proposed building and
buildings on the adjacent plot and the distance between the proposed
building line etc and other consideration etc.
Even though it not KASEPPA alone that has responsibility over building
and drainages, local government unit of environmental health is not
playing any roles similar to the ones I stated above [which they have
power and authority within their area of jurisdiction], so also the
public are not co-operating to help government in discharging its
duties.
Whatever it is, the fault is of KASEPPA, Environmental Health Officers
at local government levels and the public. KASEPPA [perhaps] is not up
to expectation due to logistic problems, inadequate manpower
competency and lack of fund; the local government Environmental health
unit is either docile in exercising it power toward the control of
building and drainages or succumbing to the Nigerian factor-corruption
by allowing people to build nay way they like; and the public are
further compounding the situation by their failure to adhere to
building regulation and making effort in evacuating their drainages,
instead, they are expecting government to do for them.
Above all, even if the government agencies cited above are performing
expectedly, there is also problem where by our so-called 'big men',
'elite', 'politicians' and others power that be, that are either
building on the drainage or even regard some parts of the road[s] that
cover the drainage[s] as theirs, which is unfortunate indeed! If you
try to do your job accordingly, you are bound to see an order from the
above restraining you from further action, that is the end, this is a
nation where we have two types of laws, one for the poor and the other
for the elite.
Also, the failure of KASEPPA in some aspect may not unconnected with
it having no any Environmental Health Officer in it staffs who can
guide them on many issues they do not know ,for they are either
engineers , town planners, administrators etc. Nevertheless, the issue
of environment encompass many sector which need multi sectoral
approach, hence having environmental health officer in it various
positions will help.

Lastly, there should be a collaboration between KASEPPA, REMASAB,
Local government environmental health units and the public in making
sure all hands are on deck to not only help in making our drainage
better, but also our building to conform with the laid down rules and
regulations, and also to make sure the waste we are generating is
disposed up accordingly.

Sani Garba writes in from Zaria Road, Kano