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Here Comes Again Lagos Cart Pushers



THERE is no doubt that Lagos is fast becoming a megacity, thus attracting people from different parts of the globe to live and do business. But aside making the city a business hub in the West African sub-region, this change in status has also posed a lot of challenges to the state government in the form of mounting pressure on existing infrastructure, social amenities and how to curb the menace of huge garbage generated daily by its increasing population.

  It is in the course of identifying and proffering solution to the issue of garbage management, which constitutes a nuisance in the metropolis, that the state government, a few years ago, banned the use and patronage of cart pushers, who used to collect garbage in the city. And to follow up and make effective the ban, it established the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to work in partnership with Private Sector Participation (PSP) to rid the state of filth.

   And apart from serving as an avenue to also rake in revenue, the initiative helped to keep major Lagos streets clean. But as the years rolled by, Lagosians began to cry out: the PSP operators in some areas, mostly in the suburbs, would not show up for weeks and even months, yet residents were forced to pay for unrendered services.

  It is, therefore, not surprising that in those areas, where LAWMA/PSP operators have shown the inability to dispose regularly of residents’ garbage, cart pushers have returned. They are back fully in business, notwithstanding that government has declared them illegal.

   Explaining to The Guardian his reason for patronising cart pushers despite government warnings, Yusuf Afinin, a resident at Okota, said: “PSP is inefficient; they don’t come regularly in my area and even when they do, they do a shoddy job of evacuating the refuse, as they always end up littering the ground and streets with refuse from their badly maintained trucks. 

 “These are things that cart pushers would not do. Besides, cart pushers won’t give you excuses for not coming to carry your garbage, as they know that failure to do so would tell on their economy. On the other hand, because PSP enjoys government support, they can tell you anything to avoid coming to pack the refuse for weeks.” 

   Corroborating Afinin’s sentiments, Emeka, a resident in Amuwo Odofin area, said, “PSP is another sign of failed government. They are like the automated machine known for deposits without service. More often than not, they do not show up for weeks to collect our refuse, yet they would want us to pay them any way.

   “But cart pushers do not work under routine or time. You can call them to collect your refuse thrice a week and they will come. The PSP operators have constituted themselves into small lords and are too officious. Can you imagine that for you to get the common garbage bags and drums, they would demand that you apply for them? Is that how to keep our city clean,” he queried.

   Explaining how she disposes of her refuse, Madam Adenike, who resides at Egbeda, said, “when PSP people would not come and I can’t just be paying cart pushers, I simply pack my refuse in a bag and put them at the bus stop early in the morning or late at night. I can’t help it, after all whether PSP services you or not, you will still pay. So, let them go to the roadside to clear mine.”

   In articulating some of their challenges, however, an official of PSP operators covering Egbeda and Idimu axis, who spoke under anonymity, said, “some streets are just not accessible for our heavy duty trucks. So, for us to carry out our duty, we stay at a particular point and announce our arrival by constantly ringing a bell or blaring the horn of our vehicle. This attracts the people, who thereby bring their refuse to our truck. When a reasonable number of them have emptied their bins, we then move on to another point and repeat the same process. It is only through this means that we can access some areas.

  “Also, there are some communities whose gates are too low for us to pass under and we can’t do anything to them until they reconstruct their gates to enable our vehicles go in. I believe such areas would do nothing other than to depend on cart pushers.” 

   To improve on the efficiency of waste collection and management in the state, especially in the suburbs, LAWMA recently added 100 mini garbage trucks to its fleet. While receiving the vehicles last year, the Managing Director of LAWMA, Mr. Ola Oresanya stated that the contemporary challenges being experienced by PSPs in refuse collection, especially in low income areas of the state, necessitated the introduction of the mini trucks.

 Said he: “We are aware of the complaints of the people, and also those trying to justify the inaccessibility of some of the roads to patronise cart-pushers. With these new vehicles, PSP would be able to provide the same services as the cart pushers.”

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