Major roads in  Akure, the capital of Ondo State, have been taken over by heaps of refuse. The development is a consequence of an indefinite strike embarked upon by civil servants in the state over the non-payment of their salaries for five months.

Refuse heaps, which continue to increase in height, have defaced major roads in the metropolis and are already spilling into drainages, blocking them,  as sanitation workers have been kept away by the ongoing industrial action in the state.

PHOTONEWS: Ondo Workers’ Strike: Refuse Heaps Take Over Akure Metropolis, Cholera Outbreak Feared

Last week, leaders of organized labour in the state directed the workers to embark on an indefinite strike as a sign of protest against the refusal of the government to pay their salaries.

Around Oba Adesida Road and Arakale Street in the main business district of the city, SaharaReporters observed mounds of refuse generated by traders, who continue to do their business.

An environmentalist, Abiodun Adebayo, told SaharaReporters  that the government of the state, headed by Governor Olusegun Mimiko, may be forced to deal with an outbreak of diseases, notably cholera.

On Oba Adesida Road,  fumes billowed from partly burnt refuse, impeding visibility and fouling the atmosphere. A section of the dual carriageway has been partially blocked by refuse, making vehicular movement an ordeal.

On Arakale Street, drainages and walkways brimmed with garbage due to the absence of cleaners and refuse collection vans.

Residents of the Government Reserved Areas [GRA] and other upscale residential areas are similarly affected.

“Since the beginning of the strike, traders and residents in the state have been dumping refuse indiscriminately by the roadside and in unauthorised locations in the metropolis,” said a resident.

A Sanitation Task Officer and staff of the state Ministry of the Environment told SaharaReporters that no one is allowed to work during the strike.

“You should know we’re on strike, and no one is permitted to work," he said.

Meanwhile, the four-day-old strike is already taking its toll on the economy of the state, neither the organized labour leaders nor the state government is willing to shift ground.

Last week, a four-hour meeting, personally called by Governor Mimiko, held between the government and organized labor at the Government House. It, however, ended in a deadlock, as workers insisted on being paid their salary arrears.

Sunday Adeleye, Ondo State Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council [JNC], told SaharaReporters that government was unwilling to yield to the demands of the striking workers.

“Our strike continues and we’re appealing to workers not to relent because this is a collective struggle as it seems this government is not willing to answer our demands,” he said in a phone conversation.

On Sunday, the national leadership of the  Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) bluntly told  Mimiko, that he was committing a “crime” against the workers and pensioners in the state by not paying their outstanding salaries and gratuities.

The NLC said this in a letter signed by its National President, Ayuba Wabba. It stressed that the refusal of the state government to pay the outstanding salaries constitutes a grave danger to the lives of the workers and their families.

“Sir, you do not need a lecture from anyone to know that non-payment of salaries and pensions for months on end constitutes a crime against the workers, pensioners, and their families, whose lives and obligation to man and God and their sense of self-worth have been put in jeopardy,” Ayuba said.

However, Kayode Akinmade, the state Commissioner for Information, argued that the government cannot pay sums that it does not have. He explained that the monthly wage bill of the state is N3.95 billion, out of which N50 million goes into the pockets of political office holders as salaries.

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