Since assuming office as the governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo Only has been tackling the menace of wastes. In this report, TEMITOPE MUSOWO examines how the state government intends to solve the stench problems.
Lagos is a mega city with an estimated population of over 22 million people and an average annual growth rate of 4.44%. Ordinarily, this makes waste management a daunting task that takes administrative ingenuity to manage such a densely populated city.
The state government’s ingenuity was put to bear in the establishment of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) which was established primarily to manage industrial waste and those of the highways. To that extent, Lagosians looked up to LAWMA for the disposal of their domestic wastes.
LAWMA, lacking the capacity to go round all the streets in the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs, had to engage the private sector to meet up with the herculean task.
According to the former spokesperson of LAWMA, Mr Lanre Bajulaye, about 333 private operators were contracted to go round the city, though grossly inadequate.Unlike in other climes where people are knowledgeable about waste management, here, everything is lumped together thereby making waste disposal a headache.However, despite this huge challenge, the state had managed to win awards severally as the cleanest state in the country.
Ambode’s Vision Scape
On assumption of office in 2015, Governor Akinwumi Ambode was of the view that LAWMA was not doing enough in term managing the waste in Lagos. He therefore came up with his own idea.
On August 1st, 2017, he announced that Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), which is a major reform of his administration to revolutionise the solid waste management sector in line with international best practices, would begin in the first week of September. The governor, who spoke at a media workshop in Lagos to sensitise journalists ahead of the take-off, said the initiative would not only change the solid waste management system in the state, but would also engender a sustainable, cleaner and healthier environment for Lagosians, just as he assured that the people would be better for it.Ambode, who was represented by the commissioner for environment, Dr Babatunde Adejare, had said all was set for the eventual take off with the passage of the Environmental Management and Protection Law 2017. It is with the concession of residential waste collection and processing to Waste Services Company. Whether the said company was capable became clear to all Lagosians before the end of the last administration. However, it can be recalled that the issue of waste management turned out to be one of the darkest area of that administration. Investigation shows that Ambode lost public sympathy despite his giant strides in infrastructural development simply because of waste management which turned out to be a disaster. Filthy environment became an issue of public discourse such that the state assembly waded in by reviewing the environmental law that empowered Vision-Scape to take over waste management from LAWMA.
Assembly removed concessionaire from waste management
Bothered by the filth under the last administration, the state assembly in May this year commenced the move to remove concessionaire from the management of waste in the state and strengthened LAWMA in the discharge of its duties.During a stakeholders meeting by the House Committee on Environment, it proposed amendment to the Environmental Management and Protection Law 2017.According to the bill, Section 41(1) of the Principal Law was to be amended by deleting ‘concessionaire’ and its definition thereby stopping them from collecting waste in the state.In its bid to give more power and functions to LAWMA, the assembly proposed to amend Section 56 of the Principal Law to enable LAWMA to collect and dispose all solid domestic, commercial and any form of waste including but not limited to medical waste, garden waste and other forms of waste generated in the state.Speaking on behalf of the speaker, Hon deputy speaker, Hon Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, explained that the bill was to address the challenges facing the management of waste and cleanliness of the environment.Sanwo-olu visits Olusosun dumpsite
Burdened by the worrisome situation of a filthy environment that became Lagos identity under his predecessor and how to change the narrative, Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu visited the Olusosun dump site in furtherance of his pledge to improve the environmental situation as contained in the first Executive Order on Environmental and Sanitation Matters signed immediately on assumption of office.
Speaking during a visit to the dumpsite, alongside his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, the governor said, “We are here today to validate the Executive Order we signed. This is where we receive 70 per cent of the waste in Lagos. The facility is 28 years old, so we want to ensure that it can receive waste for the next 23 years,” he said.
The governor expressed the possibility of a return of the monthly sanitation exercise after consultations with various stakeholders.
“We are going to ask Lagosians if they want us to return the three-hour monthly sanitation exercise to ensure that we have a cleaner city. Though I have my own view, we will still ask Lagosians,” he said.
He also disclosed the plan to expand the dumpsite in order to accommodate more waste. “We want to expand the facility to 42 acres so that trucks can have a quicker turn around time”.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the building under construction at the entrance of the site would be used to train and retrain the staff and create more jobs for the people, adding that LAWMA would be strengthened to collect recyclable materials necessary for the creation of more jobs.
He expressed confidence that the revenue derivable from waste will be properly harnessed to make life more meaningful to the people.
Mr Ola Oresanya, the CEO of LAWMA who spoke with Blueprint said, “If the law is wrong, everything will be wrong. Now that the House has amended the law to strengthen LAWMA, we are back to work and watch out for a new Lagos.”
He was optimistic that with the new government, waste management in the state would be better.
Speaking further he said, “Everyone generates waste including a new born baby who starts generating waste the moment he is born; how come we now leave the business of waste disposal for an aagenc and we sit back only to blame LAWMA for our dirty streets, when we are all supposed to be responsible for the cleanliness of our environment.
“We all throw our rotten waste at the PSP operators and cover our nose as we pass by them packing all manner of things, including abandoned babies, forgetting that these same people are human being just like us and we are not in any way better than them.”
Oresanya also condemned the bad attitude of people to waste disposal saying, “If it’s not good enough for your car, then it’s not good on our road. If the saying that cleanliness is next to godliness is anything to go by, many Nigerians must be living several miles away from God.
“As you wind down the glass of your car and throw out refuse on the rroa and the wind continue to blow them into the drainage system by the road side, when the drainage get blocked, one day you will have an emergency case, driving on the same rroa only to find out that the road has been taken over by flood after a heavy rain as a result of your action, then you start blaming the government for the consequence of your act of irresponsibility.
“Health they say is wealth, but here, we use our health to look for wealth and later use the wealth to service our health.”