By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State which was once regarded as one of the dirtiest cities in the world, in recent times is now one of the internationally acknowledged cleanest cities, evidenced by the professional, efficient and sustainable waste management and disposal services being provided by the LAWMA agency in the state.

Lagos being a city that is regarded as the  commercial nerve centre of Africa, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), with over 25,000 staff, excluding staff of the Private Sector Participants (PSP), over the years has revved up its performances through deployment of waste disposal practices from simple everyday activities to industrialised technologies.

As part of measures in sustenance of the environment, Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular, recently joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2010 World Environment Day with several events.

The World Environment Day is celebrated annually, June 5th all over the world, being direct fallout of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2997 of 15th December, 1972 in Stockholm aimed at re_ affirming commitment to preserving the Planet Earth for us all and indeed the future generations.

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day; “Many Species, One Planet, One Future” came at time when many insects, plants, reptiles, fishes and animals are disappearing from the surface of the earth. This stems from the fact that, human activities in all ramifications affect the environment either positively or negatively. It thus intensifies the urgent call to conserve our biodiversity.

One of the events was the stakeholders’ forum on waste management in Lagos organised by the LAWMA. Lagos is a megacity of dominant economic importance in the West Africa sub-region; with an estimated 18 million people generates about 9,000 metric tons of waste daily.

The population which has about 27.4 percent of the country’s urban population is growing ten times faster than New York and Los Angeles.

LAWMA, therefore, a pivotal institution responsible for managing waste generated within the city has even extended it operations to neighbouring countries such as Sierra-Leone, Ghana and other states of the federation
According to LAWMA, for the fact that the population and commercial interest bring huge challenges in managing waste, the new policy initiative of the present administration in the state is geared towards enabling an environment for effective public private partnership in infrastructure maintenance.

Therefore, at its Ijora Headquarters last week, where the maiden open day stakeholders forum took place, had in attendance those people considered vulnerable to LAWMA activities that is, those people who are negatively affected by LAWMA activities, while others include opinion leaders, Non Governmental Organisations,(NGOs), school children and business organisations.

The stakeholders gathered to air their views on waste management as it affects them in their localities within the state with a view of finding lasting solution.
LAWMA boss, Mr Ola Oresanya explained to Vanguard Metro at the end of the forum saying, “the whole idea is to give feedback to the people who we have promised that we are going to do so many things for on waste management.

What people see on daily bases are programmes but they do not get to see projects. Projects are what actually showcase the result of your success. These projects are mainly offspring. The projects include; compose production, medical waste treatment plants. How many people care to know about all these and if the dump site is not properly managed, we cannot get the result we are seeing on the road today.”

“Basically, those areas where we (LAWMA) need to deploy heavy resources these are critical areas where we need to share ideas with the people. People need to know that these projects are ongoing and that it is the whole idea of the ‘open day”.

The programme, Oresanya added was also about giving the member of the public the opportunity to be part of the agenda setters. “When we show you where we are this year, we tell you where we are going next year.

“It is also impetus for us at LAWMA to make sure that annually we must be able to move and attain milestone. The event is an avenue for us at LAWMA to open our door in a day to everybody to see what we have done so far.”

Oresanya disclosed the authority has introduced tricycle waste collector to move into rough terrain especially in blighted areas as part of efforts to sustain clean environment in the state.

He stressed that it is the responsibility of LAWMA to manage waste for everybody as long as they are residents of Lagos irrespective of where they are living. If we do not address the problem of those slump areas and continue to lay emphasis on those areas that have very good terrain, the problem of these slump areas will impact negatively on those good areas.

“At Makoko and Badia, we have started with our tri-cycle that can enter narrow places.

Speaking on the Odogunyan in Ikorodu recycling waste plant, he said the waste site is running perfectly well. “Presently, we have supply many states in the country with fertilizers from the site. All we are doing presently is to scale up the capacity which we are already working on.”

Shedding more lights on production of fertilizers, Oresanya explained that the major focus is to show the world that what has been a problem for years in the country is now an asset.

The fertilizer factory is not for profit making but to improve the state of agriculture in the state. I wish that more states can join us to produce enough of it so that we can reduce the countries dependant on organic fertilizers.

Oresanya added that to complement the waste collection, LAWMA is set to introduce about 100 new PSP trucks soon into the existing fleet.

He added that other states have contacted LAWMA for assistance in waste disposal management. “We need to share capacity and learn from one another.

We do not need to be travelling abroad to go and see what they have been doing in Europe because most of the facilities there are for over the scores of years. You only get there to be confused the more.

Most of our environmental specialist, officials travel every time to learn about their environment. Nonetheless, they come home to be more confused because they cannot benchmark what those Europeans used to achieve the result they were shown. We need to look inward and see the state that is doing so well and share capacity among ourselves. We real need a local synergy.”

Some of the stakeholders that spoke with Vanguard Metro expressed their pleasure with forum and urged the state government to make it quarterly or twice a year because of the benefits the forum affords to both LAWMA and stakeholders.

According to Mr. Benson Agha, a PSP operator, in_spite of achievements in waste management some mischievous elements still make the job of waste collection difficult through several unwholesome practices such as indiscriminate dumping of refuse as well as improper packaging of refuse.

He said that the forum had afforded them to deliberate and come up with a solution to the problems which will be employed forthwith.

One of the pupils in one of the schools at Ketu, in Ikosi_Isheri, Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Master Ayo Olajide, told Vanguard metro that he has gained a lot in the knowledge of waste disposal and he is ready to put them into use both at home and in public.

He said some of the environmental challenges they were facing around the school premises were brought to the fore at the forum and a way out has been charted.

One of the challenges he said was the invasion of social miscreants otherwise known as “Area boys” who often defecates in open spaces and smokes Indian hemp, Marijuana.

Also, the dangerous foul odour that oozes out of the Olusosun Dumpsite at Ijota was also brought to the fore at the forum where it was disclosed that deodorizer has been introduced for the treatment of waste as a means of neutralising the effects of the odour

“We thank God that this forum was organised by the state government, it is a welcome development, for deeming it fit to include us the young ones in their programme is a good one, because we now know better how to keep our environment clean.”

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