By Kingsley Adegboye
IT is now mandatory for property owners, tenements and occupiers to landscape and beautify the perimeter areas of their properties in Lagos State and violation of this order shall attract a penalty of N250,000. Similarly, it is now an offence to walk on lawns and gardens, spit, urinate or defecate in any area of the 128 landscaped gardens and 14 parks in the State.
These facts were contained in a new law which set up Parks/Gardens management agency in the state. The law further states that it is an offence to loiter, carry out illegal business, distribute controlled substance or engage in disorderly conduct, litter, pollute or dump refuse in any park or garden.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, made this known last week at the handing over of Lagos parks and gardens to the new agency known as Lagos State Parks and Gardens, LASPARK. The new body is headed by Mr. Olukunle Shotade as the General Manager.
Adequate time frame
Bello who noted that the intention of the new law is not punitive or revenue driven, added however, that failure to comply with the law shall attract stipulated the fines. He pointed out that adequate time frame shall be given to Lagos residents to acquaint themselves with the new law.
While appealing to the residents to cooperate with the new agency to take Lagos to greater heights in environmental transformation, the Commissioner gave insight into how the new law came into being.
“In order to create a sustaining structure for the landmark beautification and landscaping of open spaces in Lagos, a bill was initiated by Governor Babatunde Fashola to set up the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency. This bill was approved and passed as the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Law No.13 of 2011 by the Lagos State House of Assembly,’’ her said.
According to him, the Agency is saddled with the responsibility to administer, maintain, and manage all designated parks and gardens in the state. It is to charge appropriate fees for the use of facilities provided at the parks and gardens, carry out directives and policies of the government in respect of the development, maintenance and management of parks, recreation centres, gardens, play grounds and open spaces in the state.
Other responsibilities of the agency include granting of permit on the payment of the prescribed fees to any club, association or any similar body or person for the purpose of holding events exclusively in any of the open spaces in the parks or gardens managed by the agency, regulating the period of use of the open spaces at the parks or gardens by members of the public and providing and maintaining adequate security environmental sanitation at the parks, gardens, open spaces and recreation centres.
The agency is equally to promote afforestation in all ramifications in the state, enumerate and tag all trees within the state inclusive of those in private tenements, monitor and supervise trimmings and felling of trees within the state, advise on all matters to the greening programme of the state, cause funds for the maintenance of parks and gardens as well as carry out such other assignments as may be directed by the state governor.
The Commissioner who said the new agency is committed towards building on the solid foundation laid by the Conservation and Ecology Department of his Ministry, however, reiterated that the law which forbids the felling of trees in the state is still very much in force.
According to him, the law stipulates a fine not exceeding N50,000 or year imprisonment or other non-custodial sentences for any person or corporate body found felling or trimming trees in the state without obtaining required permit from LASPARK.