Cholera outbreak seems imminent in Owerri, following the channeling of the sewage pipe containing faeces and urine from the Nigerian Prison into the public drainage system.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the smell from the sewage produces very offensive odour around Okigwe Road/Wethderal Roundabout, Owerri axis, where traders sell fruits, bread, foods, and other consumables.
Investigation conducted revealed that the ugly occurrence had lasted for more than eight months but its impact was being felt now with the dry season.
The Nigerian Prisons Service is close to the Government House, St. Lazarus Catholic Church and a four-star hotel at the heart of Owerri.
In his reaction, James Madugba, the Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Prisons Service, Owerri command, said that it channelled the mess into the public drainage due to the collapse of its existing facility.
“The NPS, Imo State command is aware of the problem. We channelled the sewage pipe into the drainage because our facility collapsed and we do not have any other option.
“We have this issue of overstretching of our facilities by the inmates population (which) resulted in the breakdown of the available facilities,’’ he said.
Mr. Madugba disclosed that the prison, which was constructed in 1904 with 500 inmate capacity, now accommodates more than 2,300 inmates.
He said following the pressure, the facilities could no longer serve the inmates, adding that the truck which the command used in evacuating the faeces had also broken down.
Mr. Madugba said that already the management had awarded a contract for the reconstruction of the soak away pits serving the inmates and the NPS command.
He assured that in a matter of weeks, the project would be completed and the problem would be a thing of the past.
When contacted, the Imo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Udo Agoha, denied any knowledge of the problem.
Mr. Agoha, however, assured that a team would be sent to the place to investigate the report.
Two petty traders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they perceived the offensive odour from the sewage daily.
They said that they had to operate around the roundabout because they lacked the funds to rent and relocate to another place for business.