By OLASUNKANMI AKONI
Residents of Tolu Community, in Ajegunle, Ajeromi -Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State have lamented the location of a septic discharge unit at Tolu Jetty and the location of an illegal dump site in their neighborhood, calling for urgent intervention to avert an epidemic.
The accredited septic discharge unit, Tolu Jetty and the dump site in the community share boundary with the Tolu Schools Complex, where over 15 primary and secondary schools are located, close to Apapa Tin can canal.
Some of the schools directly affected are; Tin can Island Port, Tolu Nursery and Primary School, Bola Ige Millennium Secondary school, Okoya Secondary School, Oluwa Memorial Secondary School and Ojoku Secondary School.
On the illegal dump site, Vanguard investigation revealed that some officials of the council and the local chiefs established the site and employed youths who collect N220 from cart pushers per disposal.
Some of the residents who spoke with Vanguard said the present location of the discharge unit constitutes health threat to residents of the area, especially school pupils, who are disturbed by the offensive odour from trucks discharging human waste.
But the state government through the coordinator of State Waste Water Management Office, LSWA, Mr Olalekan Shodeinde, dismissed the allegation saying the residents were only calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it as the state government planned to build a sewage plant in the area for waste water management.
According to Shodeinde, ”We all know the state government’s directive on the set back from water bodies. The government owns the Tolu waterfront. That is where you have the school complex. There are 12 schools built by the state government. The residents are living closer to the waterfront and built shanties closer to the water body.
“When one visits the place, all we will see are wooden structures built close to the water. They are now laying claim to the land that belongs to the government.
“Their argument isn’t that they don’t want to leave the place. The state government has a project and the land has been earmarked for it. And the plan is to construct a waste treatment plant. The plant will afford the state government the opportunity to treat waste water in Lagos.
The state government has approved the needed funds to construct a fence for the site. The place had a fence constructed by the first executive governor of the state, Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
“However due to its closeness to water, the fence fell and the state government is ready to reconstruct the fence.
“The Baale of Tolu had earlier said that the government owns the land. He (Baale) said that the occupants came to beg him and he told them that if the government is ready to use his land, it will take it back.
”Also, there is an illegal dump site some few metres from the waterfront where many of the cart pushers dump refuse.
“They are the ones using the dump site. One needs to visit the place to understand my argument. For us, all their claims are excuses not to leave the area.
“The Lagos State government is trying to take the place to the next level. You will remember that the state government said it is ready to invest in waste water management. Before now, the residents of the state don’t care about their waste water. All they care about was portable water. And if we don’t manage it well, it will haunt us later.
”So our plan is to build a treatment plant and not channel the waste water into the drainage or through the ground. That is the state government perspective to waste management. If one digs a borehole today, one cannot get potable water anymore. If we are still using septic tank and it is soaking through the ground, where is the water going to. It goes back into the borehole that we dug some months or year before. “
”If you live in an area where they have low water level, the sand will do filtration. But for those living on the Island where they have shallow water table, if one digs the ground, before he or she digs one metre, he will get water. If there is a septic tank constructed there, so where is the water going as it is not filtered?”