*Long history of unenviable romance with refuse
In this concluding part of the report that started on Friday and continued on Sunday, Monday and yesterday, Mr Olalekan Owojori, MD of Wellbeck Consulting, continues his perspective on the challenges of waste management in the state and the way out.
BUT he was also quick to admit existing challenges and what needed to be done to ensure that Lagos remains clean on a sustainable basis. ‘’Despite the notable recorded achievements, there are still more work to be done. Fifteen per cent of daily generated wastes are not evacuated as there are still indiscriminate dumping of waste by residents on the road median, drainage channels and canals in the State. This undying habit causes blockage of drainage channels and waterways. However, the major challenges facing the waste management industry as of now are as follows:
* Dump sites
“The major bottleneck in the industry is the sordid state of the dump sites. They continue to inflict tremendous hardship on the operators as it takes trucks days to discharge and return to move more waste. The long queues affect the turnaround time which impacts negatively on the ability of the operators to service their clients. Delays at the dump sites adversely affects service delivery to Lagosians by the operators. The poor state of the dumpsite often causes damage to the operators’ trucks and increases the cost of operation which result in high downtime period. Access to the dumpsites are equally not helped by the bad state of the access roads. The trucks are driven on bad access roads, meaning that the trucks often get stuck and have to be removed by caterpillars, causing severe damages to those trucks. In the process, some trucks tumble into ditches, causing huge losses to the operators.
Transfer loading stations
“The Government built three transfer loading stations to reduce the number of trucks going to the dumpsites, but they are only not inadequate, they are often not in service. To compound matters, the current administration of the state has sadly reduced its spending on dumpsites management to 33%, a major reason for the recent decline in the performance of the PSPs.
Lack of Adequate and Effective Enforcement
“Increasing unwillingness by clients to pay their bills. Even those paying before are now refusing or delaying payments owing to lack of enforcement or sanctions against defaulters.
- *Wastes generated by informal sector such as motor parks, markets and the likes get onto the median and highways and end up blocking drainage channels.
- *Non-compliance with standard rules of bagging and keeping wastes in containers for weekly collection services.
- *To avoid payments, some clients resort to indiscriminate dumping of waste.
- Delayed and short payments of Commercial Payment by the Government
“While under the Residential Waste Collection, the operators collect their money directly from the residents; in the Commercial Waste Collection, the Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, engages the clients and contracts the operators to deliver the services and the revenue is shared on a 60:40 in favour of the operators. Sadly, however, in recent time, operators face up to five months in delayed payments. Additionally, since September 2015 to date, further arbitrary cuts were made by the Government of up to 27%, leaving them with only 33% and 67% to government, a classic case of ‘Monkey dey work Baboon dey chop’. Unfortunately this is all happening when the cost of operation, including diesel has increased by more than 300%.
With the payments coming as late as five months, operations are not only being jeopardised, the PSP waste managers operate under untold hardship. Government’s excuse was that the clients (commercial establishments) do not pay in earnest.
* Sharp drop in public enlightenment
“The recent drastic drop in public enlightenment and advocacy has negatively impacted on the attitude of Lagosians to proper waste disposal,” he submitted at length.
CLI policy discriminatory?
On the raging controversy over CLI policy, Olalekan posited thus: ‘’We are not against Cleaner Lagos Initiative; all we are saying is that it has to be progressive not destructive. The initiative as it stands will negatively affect the livelihood of 350 businesses and over 25,000 families. Since the conception of PSP, various governments had always come up with their own initiatives which have always been built on existing structure of empowering local businesses and raising the standards.
“We welcome the aspect of the initiative that addresses the challenges of the system, namely the infrastructure development of material recovery and engineered sanitary landfill. Unfortunately, the Cleaner Lagos Initiative is discriminatory, it gives preference to a foreign company by displacing 350 local businesses. The plan is to restrict the PSP to commercial waste collection which only accounts for 20% of our current activity. How many businesses can survive when they lose 80% of their business activity?”
On the present environmental profile of Lagos, he had this to say: ‘’ Sadly, waste has found itself back to the streets of Lagos, taking us back to the days prior to 1999. The recent rain… actually brought this more to light.
Dumping of waste on the highways and medians
“The question we need to ask ourselves is: What has changed? Yearly we have the rainy season but the peculiarity of this year is what led to the city being littered with waste”.
He identified another cause of the problem as lack of preparation with regards to the dumpsites, adding: ‘’ Few weeks into the rainy season, Government handed the sites to a private organisation to manage. They clearly did not have enough time to invest in getting the dump sites ready. Our trucks are spending days trying to offload or evacuate waste despite the fact that the operators now pay to dump waste”.
Another cause, according to him, was that the announcement of the initiative by government has increased the number of non-payers who believe that PSP is being phased out as this has led to more dumping of waste on the highways and medians. He said: ‘’The public enlightenment programme has been significantly reduced while the government has created a time of uncertainty that has hampered the needed investment by the PSP and willingness of banks to advance them loans. Also, the delayed payment by government for commercial waste collection of about five months has denied the operators of the much needed working capital to run their operations.”