…. look at the state’s new waste management initiatives, primed at not just making the city clean, but a smart one…as result of the gradual return of garbage heaps in Lagos metropolis has been a source of worry to many residents of the state.
The challenges of waste management in the face of rapid industrial growth and wealth creation often accompanied by harmful waste and pollution has never been an easy task to handle anywhere in the world.
Thus, it is not surprising that Lagos as a mega city is facing some unique challenges like waste management that comes with rapid urbanization that threatens clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Despite its relative small landmass of 356.861 hectares with a population density of 4,000 -20,000 per square, available demographic statistics shows that it has a current population estimate of over 22 million, making it the most populous in Africa and generates over 13,000 tonnes of waste daily, dwarfing big cities like New York that generates 10,000 tonnes daily.
Although the resurgence of waste in major parts of the state which seemed to have overwhelmed the state’s environmental protection system has been attributed to the new waste management policy of the state government, encapsulated in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), observers say the sudden appearance of refuse heaps in some parts of the city is the handiwork of those who are not comfortable with the policy and have vowed to stand against its implementation. Even if it is true, this excuse obviously appears lame.
Lagos residents who spoke with our correspondent expressed shock at the rate mounds of filth have resurfaced in their areas over night.
AkomolafeTaiwo , who resides in Pen Cinema area of the state said, “The way filth now litter our area has been a major concern to all of us living in this area . The heaps of refuse and stench that engulf the air every morning as we wake up on daily basis is terrible. The question is who is generating these wastes over night? It is becoming suspicious. It was not like this before now. The government should do something about it to avert outbreak of epidemic.”
A resident in Ojota area of the state, Elder Oki Kayode said, “What is happening in Lagos State waste management sector is not ordinary. I learnt there is battle between the state government and people that were managing the waste before the present administration.
“It’s a deliberate attempt to frustrate and discredit government. You will notice the heaps of refuse surfaces in the mid nights. I think the government needs to act fast and save Lagosians from this embarrassment and health hazards.”
As far as the state governor, Mr. AkinwunmiAmbode who took his time to throw more light on the new policy at the 2017 Third Quarter Town Hall Meeting, the eight in the series, held at the Badore Ferry Terminal in Ajah is concerned there is no cause for alarm, saying his administration had since put on its thinking cap on how to deal with the 13,000 tons generated daily.
Ambode said the new policy, when fully implemented from next month, would indeed transform the waste management efforts of his government and bequeath a functional, healthier and livable environment to the people of the state.
For the governor, the ultimate goal of the initiative is to make the people healthy, noting that when the people are healthy, they are likely to be more productive. Productivity according to him is about services and goods, which in turn, will translate to the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the state.
Ambode said the primary objective of the quarterly Town Hall meeting was to get the necessary feedbacks and assured the people that his government was working round-the-clock to comprehensively address the challenges once and for all.
He specifically urged residents of the state to be patient with government on the Cleaner Lagos Initiative billed to commence next month, saying that the policy which is a holistic and comprehensive waste management plan was currently in its gestation period.
He said once fully operational, waste would be collected in line with international best practices, while all parts of the state would always be kept clean.
Ambode, however, urged residents to adopt new attitude to disposing waste and desist from dumping them in drainages and canals, assuring that the government would provide adequate bins to discourage indiscriminate dumping.
According to him, “The question to ask is why are people putting their waste in the drains and canals hoping that somehow the water will flush it away? The answer comes back to government because we have not been able to provide the people with enough bins or places where they can put the dirt.
“They cannot leave the dirt in the house so they must have a channel to get it out. Another question is, has government been able to provide enough locations, bins, bags and so on where they can put that refuse and then we can collect it? And when we collect it efficiently, as part of their attitude, they will not go back to the canals and the drains. They will only go back to where we have provided for them.
“Now, do we have enough equipment to clean Lagos? Are we having enough dino bins, plastic bags, compactors that can go round the population of 22million people? The answer before now is no. We are the largest waste producer in the world more than New York. New York produces 10,000 tonnes of waste every day, the waste accounted for in Lagos is 13,000 tonnes per day, not to talk of areas that are not documented.
“Do we have enough equipment and compactors? We don’t have, but how do we get it? We have not increased the taxes you are paying. The population is increasing and by that fact the waste is increasing and we have not increased revenue. But we need new equipment. Some people were doing it for us before but we all saw the equipment they have been using to clean up the state and the truth is they can never do it right.
“If we say we want to be a smart city and globally competitive, we must use the approach that allows you to collect waste in a globally competitive way and that is what we have done with the CLI without me punishing tax payers.
“We have a partnership that provides 600 brand new compactors without me paying one naira yet and with the partnership, we will provide 27,500 sanitation workers in all our wards across the state, who will be uniformed and clean Ikorodu, Ayobo the same way they clean Victoria Island and then they will provide bins where our people can now have the culture and attitude to put their dirt in the bins instead of putting it in the canals and drains,” Ambode said.
In the meantime, the governor disclosed that all the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development chairmen have been mandated to ensure 24/7 cleaning of the environment, while officials of the state government would be moving round to evacuate waste.
According to him, under the CLI, apart from the 600 brand new compactors that would be used to collect waste, 900,000 electronically tracked bins would be provided in homes across the state, while wastes generated by the commercial sector would be handled by licensed private sector participants waste managers otherwise known as PSP operators.
“The dump sites in Olusosun, Igando and other areas which had been major eyesore would be closed for engineered sanitary and engineered hazardous landfills which are currently being constructed by the new partners,Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited.
“For efficient collection and disposal operations, the state government has also concessioned three Transfer Loading Stations/Material Recovery Facilities at Agege, Oshodi and Simpson and three waste depots at Mushin, Ogudu and Simpson with the aim of rehabilitating and retrofitting the facilities to world class standard.
“In addition, while the 27,500 sweepers would be deployed to all the political wards in the state to keep the inner streets clean, mechanised sweeping equipment would be deployed to all the highways to prevent the incidence of sweepers being hit by oncoming vehicles.”
For Lagos to be a smart city, Ambode noted that issues of filth and bad roads must be tackled frontally, saying work on the proposed expansion and reconstruction of the Oshodi-International Airport Road would commence next month, even as plans are already underway to commence the construction of 181 local government roads also next month.
According to him, there is no way the aesthetics of the state will be enhanced if the Oshodi-International Airport Road which is a gateway into the country is not fixed, adding that the construction, which has already been awarded, would see the transformation of the road from four lanes to 10 lanes, from Oshodi to the international airport with interchange and flyover that would drop commuters to the local airport.
Ambode said the state public works would seize the period of the break of the rainy season to fix all potholes across the state in order to improve drive time for motorists.
Part of the initiatives to enhance commuting within the state, he said would see to the construction of a new modern bus terminals, commencing from this quarter in Marina, Ajah, Ojota, Agege, IjuIshaga and IyanaIpaja areas of the state.