Abuja green areas turn to dumpsites, toilets

A green area behind Wuse Market Photo: Terkula Igidi

Swathes of green areas reserved in Abuja to beautify and give it an eco-friendly ambience have been left to wither, and in some cases, have become dumpsites and places for open defecation.

Others which were landscaped with luxurious greenery have become pubs and car wash arenas and havens for miscreants.

The Department of Parks and Recreation of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) is responsible for the planning, development and management of green areas, open spaces, conservation zones and recreation lands in the FCT in line with the provisions of the Abuja Master Plan.

However, Daily Trust findings show that the department has failed to carry out this responsibility well in recent times. This can be justified from what goes on at most of the green areas.

The green area behind Wuse Market, bordering Kitiwe Street, has become a garbage dump. Heaps of debris have overshadowed the landscaping. It is also used for open defecation.

A hawker, John Obinna, who spoke with our reporters, said since there were no public toilets in the area, the green area was available to them to “answer nature’s call.”

At Surich Park and Garden, bordered by Timbuktu, Sudan, Rabat streets and Herbert Macaulay Way, is an amalgam of shanties which are mainly eateries and bars. Hawkers of herbs (agbo) and hot drinks also do business there.

In September, 2019, the shanties were demolished by the Department of Development Control of AMMC, but they have all sprung back to life.

Shalom Park on Alvan Ikoku Way, Maitama, is another of such parks which have lost their greenery to human activities. On one end of the park is a bar, while the other end bordering Nile Street is a carwash and a stretch of withered grasses. Our reporters learnt that portions of the park are given to whoever has business to do there.

Enquiries about an available portion to rent were welcomed by a woman who runs a pub there. She, however, stressed that it was a private property and that the owner decided whatever business could be done there.

Our reporters observed that human activities at the park have left the ground without a single blade of green grass.

Neighbourhood Park by Berger Roundabout at the end of Herbert Macaulay Way is littered with refuse even though it is fenced with railings.

Our reporters learnt that transporters and traders at the busy roundabout use the park, by Annaba Street and Beyla Close, for defecation. It is also a haven for hoodlums who smoke and take hard drugs.

One of the hoodlums who thought our reporters were there to survey the place for an event said he could lease out the park to them at a very affordable price, far lower than what it would be if the park was in full commercial operation.

Asked if such action would not be illegal since the park was yet to commence commercial operation, he said, “Forget that one, we are in charge here and we are the ones who rent this place out.

“I’ll call my boss for you and after you make payment to him at a negotiable price, we will settle the security men here to ensure they do not bother you while your occasion is going on. So, you have nothing to worry about; not even the police.”

The Director of Development Control, Alhaji Mukhtar Galadima, who spoke with Daily Trust on the state of the parks, said his department was initially working  with the Department of Parks and Recreation to sanitise the parks to ensure that their usage conformed to the Abuja Master Plan, but that they were stopped by a court.

Alhaji Mukhtar further said, “But that notwithstanding, looking at the Abuja Parks Policy which was gazetted towards the end of 2019, we are working with the Department of Parks and Recreation to ensure that the development of the parks are duly planned, assessed and approved such that the implementation will be guarded jealously by the relevant departments.”

Effort to speak with the Director, Parks and Recreation, Ali Ukele, was unsuccessful.

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