Emphasise need for strong regulator as way forward
By Kingsley Adegboye
The resolution last week by the Lagos State House of Assembly that private sector partnership (PSP) in refuse collection otherwise known as PSP operators across Lagos state, should resume door to door refuse collection in all Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas in the state with immediate effect, has been commended by stakeholders in waste management sector in the state.
However, despite the laudable decision, stakeholders are of the opinion that there is the need for the government and the operators to meet and resolve grey areas such as the state or condition of trucks of the operators, as these trucks have been out of use for over two years due to disengagement of the operators by the state government, the issue of Epe landfill as the only dump site for every operator to dump refuse irrespective of whatever part of the state PSP operators are operating from, and the need for waste management sector in the state to have a very strong regulator to enforce standards, as they believe that the present Lagos State Waste Management Authority LAWMA, is weak and cannot enforce standards.
The consultant to the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria AWAM, Mr. Lekan Olowojori, who spoke to Vanguard Homes & Property, on the House of Assembly pronunciation, said the decision was a welcome development, adding that this shows that the PSP operators in refuse collection have been recognised as the right people for the job.
According to the waste management expert, “The House of Assembly has recognised the need to restore Lagos to sanity. The PSP operators have been doing this business for close to 20 years, and they have proven to be capable of doing it. They know the terrains across the city as well as nooks and crannies in local council areas.
“However, the operators have become like wounded soldiers because of the manner they have been treated in the state in the past two years. This is why there’s the need for the state government and PSP operators to sit down to chart a way forward. This is because there are several issues to be resolved.
“For instance, because the operators were out of job for close to two years, their trucks may have become bad. They need to repair and put them back on the road for the job. This involves money, and because they were out of job for a very long time, it will be difficult for them raise money to put their trucks in order.
“So, they need to sit down with the state government to iron out all these issues for proper management of refuse in the state. Very important is the issue of the regulator. There is the need for a very strong regulator who will set standards and ensure standards are adhered to by PSP operators.
“The state government was able to achieve the success it recorded during Fashola Administration in terms of waste management because there was a very strong regulator in LAWMA then. But the present LAWMA as regulator in waste management in the state is weak and cannot enforce standards. So, this area of regulation must be addressed to ensure standards are adhered to.
“Furthermore, the government needs to embark on aggressive enlightenment campaign to sensitise residents on the right spot to drop refuse for the collectors to pick up to make life easy for the operators, as some terrains are difficult to navigate while collecting door to door refuse”, the expert noted.
In its reaction, the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria AWAM, parent body of PSP operators, commended the directive of the Lagos State House of Assembly asking PSP to resume refuse collection across the state.
AWAM’s spokesperson, Mr Olugbenga Adebola said in a statement in Lagos weekend that the House had lived up to the expectation and yearnings of well-meaning Lagosians, pointing out that the association looks forward to sitting with the relevant authorities to discuss and work out the implementation of the resolution.
“’We welcome the resolution of the state House of Assembly on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. “We want to appreciate the entire members of the State Assembly; they have all lived up to the expectation and the yearnings of all well meaning Lagosians.
“In particular, we will like to thank the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, for his tenacity and consistency in speaking the truth always. We equally want to thank Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa Constituency 1) for listening to the general complaints by Lagosians on the current waste management regime in the state. History will not forget this heroic act,” he said.
According to him, AWAM looks forward to the opening of Olusosun dump sites immediately. Adebola said that all other dump sites should be revamped to improve the turnaround of PSP trucks. According to him, PSP operators were denied access to all the Transfer Loading Stations (TLS) in the state for over two years now. “Therefore, the resolution that all dump sites and Transfer Loading Stations (TLSs) be opened to PSPs is in the right direction. “This is because the disposal sites are the bedrock of any meaningful waste management system”, the spokesman said.
Lagos State House of Assembly on Thursday ordered Private Sector Partnership (PSP) operators in all the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of the state to resume refuse collection and disposal with immediate effect.
The PSP operators had been disengaged by the state governor Akinwunmi Ambode following the introduction of a new environmental initiative, through the Visionscape Sanitation Solution Limited.
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, gave the order during a plenary sitting where the lawmakers debated the state of sanity in the state’s environment.
“We are calling on the 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs in the state to have meetings with the PSP operators to go back to work and they should start paying them and make the residents to start paying the operators. We have to avoid epidemics and be proactive.”
The speaker who disregarded the emergence of Visionscape stated that the legislative arm of the state government was not consulted before the executive approved Visionscape’s operation in the state.
Since Visionscape took over refuse management, there had been a public outcry of the company’s incompetence, leading to dirt being dumped at public places in the state.
“We insist that we don’t know anything about Visionscape because we were not consulted before they started work,” Obasa said.
“We once wrote the Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Akinyemi Ashade not to pay Visionscape again and he sould return any money he paid to them after our instruction to the coffers of the state government. We will go to that when the time comes, but we have to do the needful now.”