By Olasunkanmi Akoni
ABOUT seven street cleaners have lost their lives, while 15 others sustained various degrees of injury during different crossfire between armed robbers and Policemen as well as reckless driving incidents in Lagos State.
Managing Director of the state Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Dr. Ola Oresanya, disclosed this yesterday while speaking with newsmen at the ongoing three-day workshop with the theme: â€œSafety of highway cleaners: Responsibility of all,â€ in Alausa, Ikeja.
According to Oresanya, two people were killed by stray bullets during gun battle between men of the underworld and the Police in Surulere Local Council Development Area while another five were killed by hit-and-run motorists at different points in the state.
Oresanya said the accidents were recorded at the initial conception of the street cleaning project in 2008 when LAWMA decided to extend the programme that was then a pilot scheme to the whole state.
His words: â€œTwo sweepers were killed at inner Surulere when there was a gun duel between the Police and some armed robbers in May 2008. We had lost five street sweepers to fatal accidents and 15 others sustained minor injuries at the beginning of the programme.
â€œThe incident made the LAWMA and the state government to embark on measures that eventually prevented further loss of highway cleaners in the state. We then decided to make special uniform which has greatly reduced the ugly incidences,â€ he said.
Oresanya who lamented the vulnerability of the highway cleaners, explained that the state decided to put up all-encompassing workshop where various stakeholders like men of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), commercial motorcycle operators (Okada), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and operators of Private Sector Participation (PSP) scheme were invited to brainstorm on the safety of the street cleaners.
LAWMA boss also said the authority had put in place insurance scheme for every sweeper in the state, stressing that there is nothing like staying alive to enjoy whatever effort injected into life.
â€œAside the insurance, we also design conspicuous C-caution and very bright uniform for our sweepers so that they could be noticed even from 1,000 metres distance,â€ he said.
He said the state government presently engaged 10,000 street sweepers who cover 274-kilometre stretch but needed about 25,000 to cover the approximate 400 metresâ€™ state length to create the targeted jobs.
In his address, Governor Babatunde Fashola, who was represented by the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire, explained that the workshop became necessary to raise awareness of the basic knowledge of safety precautions that could help whilst on duty.
His words: â€œIt is not enough for us to give them the jobs; we must ensure that as family men and even many as breadwinners of their homes are protected from dangers and risk of death.â€