There are concerns in Kano over depleting space for burial as major cemeteries within the state capital have gotten filled up after years of usage.
Cemeteries like the Kofar Mazugal (Abattoir), Goron Dutse (Dandolo), Fagge (Blue care), and Tarauni have all run short of space for burial, and gravediggers in the respective cemeteries are resorting to sniffing out spaces in-between tombs to bury the dead.
Residents said if new plots are not allocated for extension of the facilities within the next few months, there would no longer be spaces to bury the dead within the eight metropolitan local government areas of Kano.
It would be recalled that the state had, a couple of months ago, hit the headlines across the country over what was described as a mass death in the state’s metropolitan areas, which was later linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When our reporter visited some of the cemeteries, most of the facilities were observed to have been filled to capacity.
Daily Trust observed that all the footpaths and narrow alleys created within some of the graveyards for vehicles have been used up and gravediggers move around the tombs to locate unused spaces to bury new corpses.
Some of the cemetery attendants, who spoke to Daily Trust, appealed to the state government to consider an extension of the facilities to undeveloped plots of land around their respective parameters.
The residents alleged that issues relating to cemeteries in the state are not being given adequate attention by the authorities.
According to Alhaji Hadi Sheriff Kabir, the chairman in charge of Fagge Cemetery, “This issue is very serious but the government and major stakeholders don’t seem to give it the desired attention.
“Everybody must die, we all will die and this is where our bodies would be buried but we don’t seem to care what goes on there.
“People are dying and the available spaces for burial in most of the cemeteries within the metropolis have been used up.
“What we are doing now is to fill up the gaps between tombs; that is why we are always appealing for extension of these places.
“Wealthy individuals have a stake in this issue.
“They are the ones conniving with the authorities to encroach into the cemetery lands; as such we are appealing to them to collaborate with the government to explore ways of extending our cemeteries or else, in the nearest future, we will not have any place to bury our dead,” he added.
He advocated for official documentation of the cemeteries with relevant authorities to avoid conflicts that might result from land encroachment into the property.
He cited an example with Dala cemetery (in Kofar Mazugal) where he said some individuals allegedly converted portions of the cemetery land for personal business ventures.
Malam Auwalu Inuwa, the Chairman of Gravediggers Association Dala Cemetery, lamented over the issue of depleting space at the graveyard.
He said though the deaths witnessed in April and May had stabilized, there is a need for extension of the cemetery.
He said, “What we are doing now is to fill up the gaps between graves and the only available space we have here is like a ditch which if filled up with sand, will serve for some time.”
Similarly, at Tarauni cemetery, our reporter observed that the alleys created for trucks bringing sand into the cemetery have been reduced to footpaths for lack of space to bury people.
Malam Buhari Iliya, one of the gravediggers, who spoke to Daily Trust at the cemetery, said discussions have commenced for extension of the cemetery towards the main road along Daurawa GRA.
Reacting to the allegation of connivance with individuals to allocate plots within the cemeteries, Malam Yusuf Tukur Tarauni, the spokesperson of the state’s Standing Committee on Cemeteries, described the allegation as false, saying the plot in question at Dala cemetery was allocated to a private owner over 20 years ago.
“The allegation is false; even this morning (Monday) I was at the Aliko filling station along Aminu Kano Way in Dala, that plot was allocated over 20 years ago. It is fully registered with C of O. It is not in any way part of the cemetery,” he said.
Speaking about lack of space in the cemeteries, Tarauni said the government is doing its best to secure new places on the outskirts of the city for the cemeteries.
He, however, urged wealthy individuals to key in, saying government alone cannot do it.
Responding to alleged neglect of cemetery attendants, he blamed the local government authorities for their plight, saying local governments are responsible for the maintenance and management of the cemeteries.
He said the state and perhaps the federal government intervenes in the issues of the cemeteries only if there’s an ecological problem like erosion.