By Monsuru Olowoopejo
LAGOS State Government and Private Sector Participation, PSP, operators, waste collection managers, are presently at loggerheads over planned introduction of the Clean Lagos Initiative, CLI, aimed at reviewing the mode of waste collection in the state.
Both the government and the PSP operators have converted the State House of Assembly, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, to their battle ground, where both parties have resolved to express their argument over the new policy. That was aside from the frequent statements by the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, stressing the importance of the initiative.
The new policy, Vanguard gathered, was contained in a bill still on the floor of the house, aimed at managing, protecting and sustaining development of Lagos State and other connected purposes. Also at the stakeholders hearing held for the bill, the PSP operators and government officials could not agree on the initiative.
Ambode argued that the new policy was aimed at bringing new investors into the sector which will relieve the government of the need to introduce a new tax regime. But the PSP operators alleged that the government embarked on a solo operation without adequate consultation. A PSP operator in an interview with Vanguard, Michael Olamilekan, lamented that the government didn’t consult them, just as he described the policy as a strategy aimed at phasing out the PSP operators.
He said: “In the last 16 years, we have invested millions of naira into waste collection in Lagos state. In fact some of us got the funds through a loan to purchase compactor trucks. And each truck costs N20 million while used-compactor trucks cost N12 million. But due to the increase in exchange rate, a compactor truck now costs N41 million. It is pathetic that after assisting the government to sustain a cleaner Lagos, that they now feel we are not competent to achieve their aim.
“If the government discovers a new model of waste collection, all it should have done was to issue another guideline for operators. I remember when we started in 1999 and today we have graduated to compactor trucks. We are not against the government on the new policy, what we are saying is that we should have been invited for dialogue before embarking on the new policy,” Olamilekan added.
Responding on behalf of the other group, Ilesanmi Ayotunde, said that the new policy would afford the government the opportunity to overhaul the waste management system in the state. With the overhaul, Ayotunde explained that the government would bring foreign investors with the right expertise and funds to manage waste collection in the state, saying government cannot achieve a better waste collection system if it does not invite investors who are ready to bring in 600 compactor trucks.
According to him, there are different segments under the new policy. “First was improving drainage management. Also, resident waste collection will be introduced under the new policy, that is, waste bins will be placed in strategic locations within the state. Under the new policy, 27, 000 sweepers would be employed to clean the streets while the machine will take over the highways in the state.
“For instance the Olusosun dump site needs upgrade because those going closer to the dump site do not know that their health is in danger. This new policy would aid the government to overhaul the waste management.”
Adopt expediency with compassion, Lagos PDP urges AmbodeMeanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos State has counseled Governor Ambode to adopt the twin considerations of legality and affordability in the delivery of genuine services to the residents. According to the party, no government policy can be justified where the rights and privileges of citizens are unjustifiably eroded, negligently ignored or flagrantly disregarded with impunity. This is just as the main opposition party in the state has also charged the governor to investigate the attacks on LAWMA staff and take over of their offices in many local government areas by an intended investor company.
The party stated this counselling on the heels of the decision of the Ambode led LASG to disengage with the services of over 350 PSP waste collector companies and replacing them with another single company believed to have been floated by a close associate of the governor and who is partnering with foreigners. A statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Taofik Gani, said the good intention of the cleaner Lagos policy will be short-lived, especially “if the tested and experienced indigenous PSP waste collectors, with at least 100,000 staff are not strategically included in the scheme and in good faith.”
Economic and employment rights
The statement reads: “The idea of a cleaner Lagos would be worth the efforts if the implementation is not to merely empower any crony whereas the economic and employment rights of many are violated. It is also the fact that there are now many court cases challenging the manner and unconstitutionalism in the implementation of this policy. The state government should exercise patience till after these cases are resolved. This is the Rule of Law and expected of any responsible people’s government.
“If the implementation starts without the grey areas resolved, especially the security of the jobs now created, the state will be worse off. For instance, the new company can only re-employ the sacked staff. “This will amount to job recycling and not job creation as promised by Ambode; the incursion of investor company now known to have many foreigners is not good for our state security at this time as they will have access to homes and government offices unfettered in their contract to clear waste.
“It is our take that the good intention to improve waste clearing and have a cleaner Lagos should be deployed to having the investor company establish a transfer loading station, land field sites, material recovery facilities, waste recycling operations. This will create new jobs.”