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Lagos wastewater plants pack up amid concerns over epidemic

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Lagos State Waste Water Management Treatment Plants at Abesan,Oke-Afa and Iponri PHOTO: www.lagoswaterreg.org.ng

Fears that the planned new dawn for Lagos wastewater plants will remain an illusion heightened last week with information that the needed funds are yet to be released for the revamp of moribund facilities.

Wastewater Management in Lagos State as the case in other parts of Nigeria is minimal, with only a fraction of wastewater being treated. Sanitation systems currently used in Lagos State include both government and private facilities.

A small number of publicly owned plants are available to treat wastewater before it is released into water bodies.

The existing facilities serve only a limited part of the population. It has been estimated that about 94 percent of people in Lagos have no access to sanitary toilets.

With the increasing rains, residents are worried that they will suffer some environmental challenges witnessed last year as a result of the despicable state of the plants.

The Guardian gathered that none of the existing waste water plants has received any new equipment for its rehabilitation, leaving residents in trepidation.

This is years after the Lagos state government promised to rehabilitate existing waste water treatment plants in the mega city.

Specifically former Commissioner for the Environment in the state, Dr. Samuel Adejare, had in an occasion to commemorate the one year in office of the current administration in the state disclosed plans to rehabilitate all the existing wastewater treatment plants.

According to him, discussions on the modalities, especially structured institutional capacity development, legal, regulatory and institutional reforms aimed at improving compliance, management and economic viability in the sector as well as funding and investment strategy may soon be worked out between officials of the state and federal government.

He listed the affected plants to include the Federal – owned wastewater treatment plants located in FESTAC / Satellite towns, Gowon Estate, Trade Fair Complex, 1004 Estate, Nigerian Law School, PHCN Thermal Station (Egbin), University of Lagos, School of Nursing (Obalende) and Muritala Mohammed airport.
This, also include the Lagos State Waste Water Management Treatment Plants at Abesan, Oke-Afa and Iponri.

The then commissioner has noted the realities of the insufficient waste water treatment infrastructure in the state coupled with the non –compliance of individuals to the required standards of waste water management and drainage channelization in the construction of buildings were brought to the fore.

In line with this, he said the ministry is issuing a new directive to stop the direct channelization of waste water of any category into ‘soak away’ systems, public drains or water bodies. 
“It is wrong for you to channel your waste water directly, to use pit latrine, to dispose anti-bacterial soaps, bleaches, paints, solvents, pesticides, other toxic chemicals and harsh cleaning products into the septic tanks and all wastewater from the showers, sinks, dishwasher or washing machine should be re-directed into the septic tank now,” he stated.

He further revealed that the state-owned wastewater treatment plants, four in number, is inadequate to cater for the state’s population strength which he said is in the range of 22 million and as such the state government plans to boost capacity by integrating this number with federal government-owned waste water treatment facilities in Lagos State.

Also the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has in a recent function said his administration is poised to surmount the underlying challenges confronting wastewater management in the state is as well as unveil the business opportunities embedded in acceptable wastewater management practices.

He has stressed that the vision of a Smart City which his administration had keyed into required global best practices in wastewater management through the use of modern methods to collect, transport and treat waste water to acceptable standards prior to reuse or discharge into the environment.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye at the Lagos State Wastewater Summit held at Ikeja, the governor, said the summit provided a platform for stakeholders in the wastewater sector to examine existing frameworks, identify limiting factors, proffer sustainable solutions and chart a new vision for the sector.

He also called on investors and practitioners in the wastewater sector to collaborate and partner with the government to ensure that wastewater management in the State is at par with global practices.

He maintained that the current state of wastewater management in the State indicates that the huge potential in the sector remains untapped, adding that the multi-billion-naira potential in the sector needs to be properly harnessed.

But, an official of the Lagos State Wastewater Management Office (LSWMO), who confided with The Guardian, said despite promises made by the government to rehabilitate the existing waste water treatment plants in the state nothing has changed.

The official expressed sadness that no new step has been taken or equipment acquired despite requisitions and public outcry.
Only recently, residents of Jakande Housing Estate, Isolo, where Oke -Afa Wastewater Plant is located had raised fears over a possible outbreak of epidemic in the area.

The plant built in 1982 was to serve over 40, 000 people through activated sludge process, with the capacity of doing primary, secondary and tertiary treatment, while the Oke-Afa Canal is the receiving point.

However, no major rehabilitation was done on the plant, which serves about 50,000 people living in and around Jakande Estate, apart from a minor repair in 2010.

The only visible trademark of the plant is the effluent from the pipes overflowing into the streets and drainage system. These effluents normally find their ways through available space crisscrossing several residential homes before emptying into the canal.

A resident, Emmanuel Akiri said, he has abandoned his borehole because of contamination caused by the effluents mostly feaces, which now run through their homes for onward discharge to the Oke-Afa canal.

He wants the state government to live up to its promise by changing the ugly narrative in the area.

According to him, the wastewater plants need total replacement of equipment and key materials to work optimally.


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