Lagos Garbages lagos Dirty unclean environment Nigeria health?
It would seem the Lagos State government and its appointed waste managers are in for a long-drawn battle with garbage in the ‘centre of excellence’ as there’s a gradual resurgence of heaps of refuse in different parts of the metropolis.
The state was seen slowly stepping out of the menacing filth it sank so badly between 2017 and the early months of this year, which had raised serious health concerns among the residents and medical experts, who warned of an imminent outbreak of epidemics unless there was some urgent intervention.
In a move to avert the looming disaster, the state government and Visionscape Sanitation Services Limited, the environmental utility company with which the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration signed a deal as part of its Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), had stepped up actions, and deployed measures which saw a chunk of the refuse that littered everywhere in the metropolis, evacuated.
However, a few months after the feat, the waste managers are seen struggling to sustain the tempo, as heaps of garbage are mounting again in the state even as residents continue the bad habit non bagging of waste and indiscriminate dumping in open and unauthorised places.
Investigations show that street corners, roundabouts, highways and the inner communities are falling back into waste due to low turn-around time by trucks deployed by the waste managers, with the residents again raising concerns.
“We are aware of the recent complaints about the resurgence of waste across the Lagos West axis of the State. Under the new arrangements for waste management reform by the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, our mandate to accelerate waste infrastructure has made it necessary to temporarily close two transfer loading stations in that axis for upgrades and refurbishment of the facilities. As a result, there is a backlog as Waste Collection Operators experience a higher turn-around time,” John Irvine, Visionscape Sanitation Solutions CEO, told BusinessDay.
“This underscores the importance of infrastructure to the waste management system and our role as Visionscape Sanitation Solutions remains the provision of these facilities.Other environmental works like drainage and waterways management are handled by the Ministry of the Environment and its relevant agencies.We remain committed to working with all stakeholders as we carry out our respective roles and responsibilities, and will continue to support the waste collection efforts through our Monitoring and Intervention (M&I) team,” Irvine said.
But Margaret Abiola, a resident of Governor’s Road in Alimoshoa area of the state, is uncomfortable particularly with development at Council Round-about linking Idimu and Liasu Roads in Ikotun, which is becoming a huge dumpsite.
Abiola who spoke with BusinessDay described the situation as an ‘eyesore’. She linked the development to what called “lack of capacity” by the waste managers to regularly evacuate waste from the round-about.
She observed that “the population of this area is huge, so also the waste generated, noting that “with this in mind, I would expect the waste managers put in charge of this area to be up and running. But what we see here is a situation where the refuse are left for several days decompose,” said Abiola.
Chisom Iheanacho, a resident of Okota, feared that unless the government puts pressure on the waste managers, the state is bound to relapse into the filth status witnessed some months back, where motorists drove on waste-littered roads in most parts of the metropolis.
Iheanacho regretted that the improvement noticed months back on the Okota Road, off Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, inward Okota Police Barracks from Cele, was fast disappearing, as heaps of refuse now litter the stretch of the road.
A resident of Ikate, in Surulere, who identified himself as Solomon, also drew attention to piling waste on Ijesha Road. Solomon equally blamed the resurgence on poor turn-around time by waste trucks, saying “it takes several days for them to come and collect the waste. Most of the times the wastes are spilled on the road and see vehicles run on them,” he said.
Within the Apapa axis, Lukmon Adele, a resident of Alayabiagba Street, decried the mounting heaps of waste around Boundary Round-about inward Mobil Road, which he also linked to irregular evacuation by the waste managers.
He said the refuse were often left for days to decompose with offensive stench oozing out, before the waste trucks come around to evacuate. “There is a market around here, and this presupposes that the volume of waste generated daily would be huge. It behoves on the managers whether private or public to raise their game.
When contacted, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, whose ministry supervises the activities of the waste managers, attributed the resurgence of refuse partly to the rainy season and improper disposal by residences, adding, however, that steps were being taken to address the challenge.
One of the measures being urgently put in place, according to Durosinmi-Etti, in response to BusinessDay’s enquiries, is partnership with community development associations, corporate and religious bodies to check illegal dumping. He said the relevant unit in his ministry was also partnering with the Works Department to clear drainages to allow for a better flow of flood waters.
The commissioner, who also decried regular attacks on officials of waste management companies by those he called “area boys” in some communities, including Idi-Araba in Mushin, said the government was also strengthening enforcement teams in specific areas where increased indiscriminate dumping had been noticed.
Durosinmi-Etti also told BusinessDay that the special adviser to the state governor on Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) had been mandated to ensure better turn-around time at landfills in order to enhance the efficiency of waste trucks.
“We’re taking the message to the communities because they’re the beneficiaries of what we’re doing. They have to embrace it and key into the vision,” Durosinmi-Etti said, adding that within the next few weeks, areas experiencing resurgence of waste in the state, would witness remarkable improvement.
In 2017, the government in pursuit of the CLI objectives signed an agreement which vested the responsibility of domestic waste management on Visionscape under a 10-year franchise.
Under the CLI, the Private Sector Participants (PSP) operators which, hitherto, were in charge of waste management in the state, are now restricted to collection of commercial waste from schools, churches, industries, hospitals and other businesses. The Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), which, before now, played a key role in waste management, is saddled majorly with the task of regulation and supervision under the CLI.