Tuesday, September 26, 2006

'Cos we need more rubbish

The story of the toxic waste that has been killing people in Abidjan is appalling. What riled me even more late last night as I listened to another report about the incident, is that the company, Trifigura, tried to dump their rubbish in Nigeria. They've now released a press statement saying that the stuff wasn't toxic - as if that makes it better. This is what Western companies do. They go to developing countries where there is little or no environmental legislation, and commit crimes they'd get locked up for in their own country.

The oil companies do it in Nigeria with gas flaring, where more gas is flared than any other country in the world. In Bangladeshi, the government had to cancel plans to build a coalmine after adverse publicity from the project. Several people died during protests over a project that would have destroyed hundreds of villages. The company, Asia Energy, wouldn't let journalists travel to the area, for obvious reasons. The Daily Star newspaper of Bangladesh even says that there are lessons to learn from Nigeria's industrial and environmental experiences.

Africa is always painted as this verdant and fertile land, the place to be in tune with nature. Perhaps it was true 100 years ago, when rich explorers travelled to the Dark Continent to shoot game, but that myth is literally disappearing. Deforestation, overfarming, desertification, famine, flooding, landslides, you name it, the continent is afflicted by it. The saddest thing is that Africa gets all the environmental carnage you'd expect from the industrial revolution, but none of the benefits. No increase in technological know-how, no increase in job prospects, just plain old rubbish.

Nigeria has no waste disposal mechanism. There are piles of rubbish which engulf roads and trap communities in Lagos. I have seen enormous piles of rubbish being burnt in built-up areas like Maryland. Lagos, and Nigeria in general, can't deal with its own waste, so how on earth was it supposed to deal with excess waste from abroad? The Dutch company that considered disposing of the rubbish suddenly raised its rate to 40 times the originial price. 40 times. "This is too expensive, let's go to the bend-down boutique of waste disposal. Let's go to Africa", they thought.

And so the crap gets dumped in one of Africa's most beautiful cities (don't know if civil unrest has ravaged it). People die. Nothing changes. Some people have been arrested for the dumping, but what if the stuff hadn't been dumped in the largest city, Abidjan? If they had gone further up the coast to smaller San Pedro, nobody would have flickered an eyelid.

The defecation on Africa happens because the governments let it happen, and the companies can get away with it there. There seems almost no point to the law unless it's used. Trifigura and the like need to know what they're letting themselves in for if they go near the African coast with their crap.

5 comments:

The fighter said...

Africa is a rubbish dump, is and always has been don't know why you're fronting.

Anonymous said...

Today, I was angry because it came to my realisation (again) that we are at the bottom of the pile. I read this and that anger stirs within me (again).

To the fighter - while we may (have to) accept that Africa is a rubbish dump, this acceptance need not lead to criticism of African Shirts of 'fronting' for being angry about this and dreaming of a different world. Will you not even allow him to dream - of a world in which African countries are not the world's dumping ground because African governments get off their backsides and stop allowing the oppression of their people? Can he not dream? Fighter, can he not dream?

Consider historical analogy.

Africa and Africans are not the only land and people to be shat on. In nineteenth century industrial England (even good ol England), no one gave a toss about the working class; that is until they organised themselves and carved a space in the political system by the early twentieth century. (Note the effort and time - hmmmm....)

The point is Africans have to make themselves matter. We need to stop complaining about what the world has done to us, organise ourselves and show the world what we are capable of - for our sakes, for bloomin prides sake, for the sake of the younger generation and those yet unborn. Because if those development indicators recede (again) as they have done for the last 25 years, African children may as well be sent to the grave a year after birth.

An aside: 'Me i like my country, i like the land and people; everything e dey for nigeria. mek we join hands, to make nigeria better' - pity this was military propaganda - which reminds me - Woe unto IBB and his cohorts.

Imnakoya said...

The three issues that have been choking Africa - ignorance, poverty and corruption - are also the reasons why Africa and other n-world regions have turned into garbage dump for global toxic waste. Didn't someone say people die because they lack knowledge and understanding?

the fighter said...

To anonymous, dreamers are the same as fools and where Africa is concerned such a dreamer is doubly foolish.

When will your kind (and that includes Nkem) stop dreaming that African governments will get off their backsides as you put it when they themselves are the oppressors of their people.

Wake up and smell the "rubbish" because it never stops coming.

Onya Baquebeich said...

rubbish smells good...
Sad state of affairs, but the fact is that African governments allow this shit to happen. there are incidences of regimes being toppled cos they dont bend over to western desires, but honestly speaking...we have to point the finger at ourselves first.