…No improvement in waste management since the signing of 5-year agreement between PSP operators and LAWMA —Residents

Govt has invested N3bn rehabilitating dump sites, constructing three new loading stations—Gov Sanwo-Olu

We are handling return of refuse in parts of the state holistically —Odumboni, LAWMA DG

By Kingsley Adegboye, Olasunkomi Akoni & Bose Adelaja

Refuse-prone areas

Apapa-Oshodi Expressway: Second Rainbow, Coker, Sanya, Ijesha, and Cele bus-stops Maza-Maza Bus-stop, Orile-Badagry Expressway to Mile 2 Ojodu-Berger, Ogba Awolowo Way, Ikeja Agege, Abule-Egba, Iyana Ipaja Egbeda, Idimu, Ikotun, Ijegun Ijaiye, Alakuko, AIT Road Alagbado  Yaba, Surulere, Oyingbo

ON April 14, 2021 residents of Lagos State received a most disturbing news from the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello. Accompanied by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Drainage Services, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, the commissioner informed during a media briefing that based on the 2021 Seasonal Climate Predictions, the state would experience high intensity rainfall of 261 days this year, with attendant flooding across the state. Against this backdrop, he had directed residents in coastal and low-lying wetland areas of the state to move upland to avert needless loss of lives and property.

According to Bello: “It is also expected that the increasing frequency of extreme weather events indicates that year 2021 will likely experience days with extremely high rainfall amounts which may result in flooding.”

The information and warning did not immediately elicit panic among Lagosians. Instead it was dismissed as another doomsday prediction that will never come to pass. But less than three months later, heavy rainfall, accompanied by strong wind, caused massive flooding in many parts of the state, leading in some cases to building collapse and a commercial boat capsizing. Even highbrow areas like Banana Island, Park View Estate, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki and Ajah, Apapa and Ikeja were not spared, with many homes flooded, vehicles and other possessions submerged in the flood that took several days before it began to subside.

Usual chaotic traffic situation

But while flooding is not uncommon in Lagos, given its coastal nature and its frequent occurrences over the years, this most recent incident had once again brought to the front burner the question of why it has continued to occur in spite of government’s claims of having constructed several drainage channels to address the problem. Government’s immediate response was to blame the dumping of refuse in drainage channels for the problem. For instance, the state government had, following the flooding caused by the downpour last month, embarked on a project to clean up canals blocked by refuse in four affected local government areas of the state.  

But beyond cleaning up blocked drains, many concerned Lagosians will want the state government to urgently address the problem of indiscriminate dumping of refuse which has turned many parts of the metropolis into an eyesore, thus putting a question mark on the claim that the state is a centre of excellence, a megacity in the making. Indeed in spite of repeated warnings against indiscriminate dumping of refuse and the different measures adopted by government to curb the menace, Lagos continues to wear a dirty look all year round.

The coming of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration raised hope in many quarters that the problem would soon be a thing of the past based on the fact that achieving a cleaner Lagos was one of the cardinal points of its T.H.E.M.E. Agenda. But two years after, the problem continues to rear its ugly head through indiscriminate refuse dumping at road medians, roadsides, bus stops and other unauthorised places around the metropolis.

It is no longer news that household wastes have found their way back to the street corners of the city, major highways, road medians and drainage channels across the city, thus taking the state back to the dark days when the metropolis was plagued by refuse and was regarded as one of the dirtiest cities in the world.

According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, over 2.4 billion people could be at risk of potentially fatal diseases if waste disposal issues persist as is happening presently in Lagos. Meanwhile, the state government had at different occasions declared zero tolerance to indiscriminate waste disposal in unauthorised places. But the view in some quarters is that nothing seems to have changed with regard to carting refuse away from Lagos streets in spite of the return of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, after the sack of Visionscape. LAWMA is the Authority responsible for waste disposal in the state.  For instance, along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, virtually every bus-stop has a heap of waste, with the indication that those charged with the responsibility of clearing the refuse had failed to carry out their assignment for some time.

From Maza-Maza Bus-stop along the Orile-Badagry Expressway to Mile 2, Second Rainbow, Coker, Sanya, Ijesha and Cele bus-stops on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, there are still heaps of waste waiting to be cleared. And it was observed that the refuse has gradually built up for sometime. It was also observed that some of the refuse dumped on the road median and bus-stops of the expressway were not bagged, which makes the situation highly risky to human life.

Surprisingly, the state government recently launched a campaign where it implored residents to always bag their waste. In all the locations where there were heaps of refuse, there were no bagged waste. The situation is the same across the city. For instance,  Ojodu-Berger, Ogba, Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Agege, Abule-Egba, Iyana Ipaja, Egbeda, Idimu, Ikotun, Ijegun, Ijaiye, Alakuko, AIT Road Alagbado, Yaba, Surulere, Oyingbo, sections of the Mile 2/Badagry Expressway and many other parts of the metropolis are not spared of refuse heaps. Lagos Island is equally not spared as refuse heaps are found on major roads and street corners.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while celebrating 100 days in office, had said over 20 million units of waste bags had been produced for distribution so that residents could bag and sort their wastes appropriately. He promised that 40 million units of waste bags would be produced in the coming weeks, as his administration was not about excuses but finding solutions to problems and challenges confronting residents and the state.

5-year waste management agreement signed between PSP operators and LAWMA

Also, LAWMA recently signed a five-year agreement with the state PSP operators with the objective of enhancing the operational activities of the operators, boost their confidence and reassure them of government’s commitment to their sustainability.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni, during the signing of the agreement, said the state was entering a new phase of waste collection and disposal and would strengthen the sector and make it wholly manageable. The LAWMA helmsman enjoined the PSP operators to improve on their service delivery and repay the magnanimity of the state governor by ensuring that they discharge their duties diligently. “The idea of people dumping waste indiscriminately into drainage channels, water channels, the median and other unauthorised places must stop as it would be seriously frowned at, and offenders prosecuted,” Odumboni warned, stating also that the agency will not tolerate non-payment of waste bills.

Responding, the President, Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria, AWAMN, Mr. David Oriyomi, expressed the gratitude of the operators to LAWMA for the milestone recorded in the signing of the agreement, stating that the gesture will boost the morale and confidence of their members. But there has not been any sign of improvement in waste management in the city since the signing of the franchise.

We are liaising with LAWMA —Ikorodu LG

About two years ago, the Chairman, Ikorodu Local Government, Lagos State, Wasiu Adesina, cautioned residents against indiscriminate dumping of waste on the streets and major roads due to perceived health hazards which could result from this. But while some complied, many others persisted without considering the attendant deleterious effects to health. Whenever it rains, the resulting flood caused by blocked drainage somehow washes the refuse into the streets, thus polluting the flowing water bodies and channels. Health experts are of the view that these could bring about diseases among the populace.

In Ikorodu, which is made up of a full-fledged local government area and five local council development areas, LCDAs, the challenge of indiscriminate dumping of refuse has been on the increase, especially the thickly populated market areas and unauthorised settlements.

In addition to this, some households care less about the environment and routinely defy government order such that refuse has resurfaced on some streets, road sides, drainage channels, culverts, road median, markets, undeveloped and abandoned property, abandoned vehicles, bus-stops and water channels. Decades back, there used to be enough orientation through the mass media, town criers and public enlightenment programmes with Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, being very active and effective even as the consciousness was high among residents. But the story has since changed.

In fact, it has almost become the norm to dump refuse anyhow and anywhere with impunity. At Ikorodu Roundabout, there is a refuse dinosaur bin provided by government which is supposed to be emptied regularly, but the reverse is the case. More baffling is the fact that road side traders openly display their wares near the refuse dump. Also, apart from being taken over by refuse, weeds and beggars, the road median and culvert stink offensively of urine and faeces almost all the time.

Some residents who spoke with Vanguard made a strong case for a return of the monthly environmental sanitation exercise to further complement the Thursday market sanitation in the state. A community developer, Tony Anwuzie said: “In the days of environmental sanitation, owners of trucks and many other bodies came together to render support services by clearing the refuse and dumping it at designated dumps. Why can’t government re-introduce the exercise?”

Another resident, Mr. Abiola Oladele, condemned the attitude of people urinating by road sides and culverts. “In the era of KAI, you dare not deface the environment in this manner; but nowadays, people do this with impunity regardless of the presence of law enforcement agents”. Mrs. Toyin Oluwa said government has not been alive to its responsibilities, adding: “In those days, there used to be sanitary officers who worked zealously to ensure the cleanliness of the environment and prosecute offenders, but this is no longer the case as many of them do not render their services conscientiously,”

A trader told Vanguard that sometime ago, government distributed bin bags to traders to ensure proper collection of refuse. Unfortunately, the objective was defeated as there was no follow up. “Indiscriminate dumping of waste promotes the breeding of insects such as houseflies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, tsetse flies, which transmit diseases like typhoid, malaria, diarrhea, cholera, sleeping sickness and scabies,” she said. But in a chat with Vanguard, the Chairman, Ikorodu Central Local Government, Wasiu Adesina, said there is a lot of improvement as regards curbing indiscriminate dumping of refuse. He said: “It is a bit better compared with before and this is due to timely action by government. We have embarked on regular mop-up of refuse which is done weekly by liaising with the Lagos State Waste Management Agency, LAWMA and this has improved the situation.

“There is public enlightenment through the mass media. Let us not forget the fact that Ikorodu is densely populated; but we are trying our best to improve on the environment. We will join hands with the state government to redesign the environment and reduce indiscriminate dumping of refuse. As time goes on, we want to eradicate road side trading and activities that may deface our environment. We have issued warnings to traders who display their wares on the road median and arrests would soon be made. The state government will take necessary action and we shall collaborate with it in its effort in this regard.”

The Spokesperson, Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria, Olugbenga Adebola, said the association was being guided by Polluter Pay Principle, PPP, which connotes that a person who pollutes the environment must pay for the evacuation of that pollution. This means that every waste generator in Lagos is expected to pay for the evacuation of such waste. He said payment had been carefully designed to suit the geographical location of residents. According to him, the association has many members and trucks to serve various communities, while the payment captures the types of property, location and nature of business to suit the customers.

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He said areas like Ikorodu, Agbado-Ijaye, Agege and Alimosho are classified under Low Income Areas as shops and rooms are expected to pay a monthly fee of between N300 and N500, while flats and duplexes are charged between N1,000 and N1,250.  He also said canteens and other businesses that generate heavy refuse are served almost daily or bi-weekly and are charged between N400 and N1,000 monthly depending on the volume of the waste collected.  In Ikeja, Kosofe, Ilupeju and other medium income areas, flats and duplexes are charged N1,500 to N2,500 and N4,000 respectively, though this still depends on the location as areas like Ipodo and other low income areas in Ikeja pay less.

Oshodi and Apapa residents are charged between N1,200 and N1,500 per flat while the high brow areas like Lekki are split into various categories, depending on the nature and location of the property. “They are charged N3,500 to N5,000 and N7,500 to N15,000,” he informed. On indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the state he said: “All residents are expected to pay the monthly charges, neatly pack their refuse and wait for the waste collectors to do their jobs. And whereby the collectors do not discharge their duties as expected, LAWMA has announced the numbers to call for complaints.

Why people dump refuse indiscriminately

“However, in a bid to evade regular payment for this service, people choose to dump waste indiscriminately in unauthorised places. Selective service comes when people don’t pay regularly. Let us not forget the fact that the waste collectors have a lot of expenses on their table and all will be met if people pay regularly. LAWMA has assigned an arm which moves around to remove waste in unathorised places. We are gradually moving to an era where people would be requested to show evidence for payment on refuse collection. There is going to be an enforcement and people will prove how they dispose their waste. The law is being rejigged to prosecute environmental infractions.

“So far, there have been public engagement and sensitisation through motorised public enlightenment campaign at the local government level. Also, there are regular meetings with Community Development Associations and Community Development Committees to pass across the information.”

Sanwo-Olu speaks on tackling waste in Lagos

Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has reiterated the commitment of his administration in tackling waste in the state. Sanwo-Olu, speaking after inaugurating 102 compactor trucks and 100 double Dino Bins, said his administration had invested over N2 billion towards rehabilitating dumpsites, with another N1 billion being invested in the construction of three new transfer loading stations to provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the effective delivery of solid waste management services.

This, he said, is to fulfill his administration’s determination to secure the public and environmental health of the state, as well as improve the environment’s aesthetic value. The governor said: “Today, we take delivery of 102 waste collection vehicles comprising thirty 12 cubic metre compactor trucks; 60 24 cubic metre compactor trucks;12 hook loaders and 100 double dino bins.

This represents one of the largest singular investments ever in the waste management sector in the state. We are confident that the addition of these assets to our existing ones will very quickly bring about very visible improvements in waste evacuation and reduce the incidence of black spots that blight our roads and clog our drains. But this is only the beginning; we are thinking well beyond the basics of waste collection and disposal. We are focused on permanently changing the habits and mindsets of Lagosians regarding the management of waste; inculcating a culture of responsible usage, and of sorting and recycling.

“We are also fully aware of the potential of the waste economy. Our waste-to-wealth plan is taking shape, as we are rehabilitating the compost facility in Odogunyan and will be unveiling more projects/programmes in the coming months. I urge Lagosians to act responsibly always. We cannot continue to litter our roads, dump waste on the roadside or in illegal dumpsites, or patronise cart-pushers for waste disposal. We cannot be irresponsible in our waste handling and disposal behaviour and somehow expect that we will be spared the consequences of irresponsibility. The quality of our environment directly impacts the quality of the lives we live. A clean environment is a major weapon against COVID-19 and other public health challenges.”

LAWMA reacts: On his part, the Managing Director of Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni, was quick to blame the undisciplined habit of some residents for the return of the menace of refuse in the state in recent time. According to Odumboni: “We are handling the issue of heaps of refuse in some parts of the state holistically. You know there was vacuum left by the previous administration where management of waste was left prostrate.

“The Authority has faced acute shortage of compactor trucks to do critical intervention assignments. With waste generation on the increase on daily basis, it has been a challenging task till date. Efforts of the authority are also being jeopardised by some unscrupulous individuals who bring refuse from their houses and dump on the highways on their way to their various destinations. In the midst of our struggle, Mr. Governor came with a promise, that brand new compactor trucks would be delivered to us, sooner, and that has just been fulfilled with the launch of 102 brand new locally assembled compactor trucks and 100 Double Dino Bins. All these fall in line with the THEMES Agenda, where Health and Environment play a pivotal role.

“Lagos State is the fifth largest economy in Africa, with a population in excess of 20 million people. The pressure, resulting from the huge population, added to the volume of economic activities, expectedly trigger huge increases in the volume of waste generated across the state. As at today, no less than 15,000 metric tonnes of solid waste, is generated in the state on daily basis. This challenge necessitates, that LAWMA has an impressive truck fleet to cope effectively.

Volume of solid waste

“Before now, LAWMA has about 50 trucks, while Private Sector Participants, PSP, has about 750 trucks. Thankfully, the governor has graciously illuminated our path, positioning us for progress and better performance. Accordingly therefore, the trucks will be distributed among LAWMA formations and operational districts, for effective coverage of the state, and for optimal performance. I wish to place on record, that LAWMA has enjoyed steady and consistent support of the current administration in all areas. These include the continuous improvement and expansion of Olusosun Landfill; its road network, and on-going capping, among others.

“The road rehabilitation exercise has drastically reduced the man-hours wasted by trucks in long queues, thereby boosting total daily tuck trips to 800, from a paltry 357, in the recent past. We have re-organised street-sweeping/highway operations, effectively deploying 15,000 sweepers, to the streets and highways, in addition to a rejuvenated PSP operation, functioning in the 20 Local Government and 37 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, areas of the state. Notably too, we are trying to reduce pressure on the landfills, by reducing the volume of solid waste that goes there. This has made us intensify campaign on waste sorting and recycling, through the Lagos Recycle Initiative and to woo Lagosians into the culture of recycling, we recently introduced the ‘PAKAM App’, which operates like Uber, for residents to access and interface with recyclers closest to them, and to win prizes through their waste sorting activities.”

“I wish to add also, that our LAWMA Academy is taking firm roots, and steadily building a future generation of environment-conscious and environment-friendly Nigerians. We are currently working on “LAWMA-Own-A-Bin” programme, which requires that residents acquire and own two customised waste bins, for proper containerisation of sorted waste. All these and many more, we could not have achieved, without the reliable and consistent support of Mr. Governor and his administration.

“We are also facilitating a loan facility with one of the new generation banks for PSPs inorder to enhance their capacity in waste management in the state. The arrangement afford each PSP operator to get loan to acquire new compactor truck and pay back over long period of time. This will also result in efficient waste management in the state. I want to assure residents that the newly launched trucks would be put to best uses immediately, and excellent maintenance is guaranteed as heaps of refuse from various roads will soon be a thing of the past.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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