The government of Lagos state is coming with an improved plans and policies to check the activities of sawmill operators, particularly with respect to the disposal and indiscriminate burning of sawdust across the state.
Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) ,the watchdog on environmental issues has started taking an inventory of all sawmills in the state, which will be followed by an enlightenment programmes to tutor sawmill operators on proper methods for disposal of sawdust and wood shavings .
The programme, according to report, is coming on the series of studies recently conducted by the agency, which revealed serious water and air contamination through frequent burning and improper disposal of the products in water bodies around the state
The Chief Public Affairs Officer, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Bola Ajao who confirmed this development, said it is illegal to burn such waste in the state, as this exacerbates air pollution with a consequential health effect on residents and rise in global warming due to the release of greenhouse gases.
Ajao said: “The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, as an organ of the State government responsible for the regulation of the Lagos environment, has carried out various studies on the solution to the menace at Oko-Baba and proffered clean alternative use of the saw dust generated. We are canvassing conversion of saw dust to Briquettes, to fuel and kindle fire.
“The use of Briquettes amongst others, include providing energy for cooking, powering of kiln or ovens for burning, baking, drying or firing pottery. Therefore, effective use of Briquettes as alternative to wood amongst Bakers who still use wood oven, as against gas because of cost, will reduce air pollution immensely from that sector.
She noted that Oko Baba Sawmill by the Lagos Lagoon happens to be one of the biggest in Nigeria that contributes up to 85 per cent of the wood used by furniture factories in Lagos and the surrounding states.
Meanwhile, some environmentalists collaborated the government stand, warning that it portends some catastrophic and negative effects on the environment and human health.
Dr. Michael Ahove of the Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainability Development, Lagos State University, said the effect of open burning of saw dust hinge on the fact that it adds to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, irritates the eyes and the nose.
He explained that sawdust is principally made of wood comprising carbon-dioxide and carbon mono-oxide. The buildup, he noted is the same thing like burning wood generally into the atmosphere but the amount of carbon released from the saw dust is lower .
The environmentalist said instead of engaging in open burning of saw dust in Oko baba and other areas in the country, government should support the saw millers by helping them to use the product to generate electricity.
Dr. Ahove observed that it’s still embarrassing to see open burning of saw dust in some of the most prestigious high ways in the country advising that governments at all levels need to muster enough political will to develop short term solution/plan and stop such activities that endangers the environment and the health of the people.