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Evolving clean, safe, healthy environment from solid waste


Bedeviled with diverse challenges such as inadequate policy, improper knowledge of waste management, poor facilities and infrastructure, waste management in Nigeria has remained a herculean task.

With a population of about 170 million, Nigeria generates more than 32 million tons of solid waste yearly, out of which only 20 to 30 per cent is collected thereby making the country one of the largest producers of solid waste in Africa.

Government efforts in the past to tackle the challenge posed by solid waste have suffered set back owing to reliance on sanitation laws made in the 60’s and early 1970’s coupled with lack adequate budgetary provisions for the implementation of integrated waste management programmes across the states.

As noted by an environmental expert and the Chief Executive Officer of Waste Matters Limited, organisers of African waste management exhibition, Mr. Ken Edike, the constitution has placed the obligation of waste management on the local governments, even though the local councils are not able to even carry themselves let alone the huge sum that is required for planning, training, procurement of waste management facilities and infrastructure.

For instance, Lagos State Government, the nation’s economic nerve centre, which generates above 13 metric tonnes of waste per day, attempted to drive the programme by creating the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), to manage their waste even though the only agency that is supposed to do it is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Although, LAWMA was given all the powers to procure materials and take charge of waste management, they could not cope with the challenge of managing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) alone. The state, therefore, decided to come up with the Private Sector Participation (PSP) by engaging the services of private waste firms and other franchisee to reduce the burden of waste collection and disposal.

But the PSP has its shortcomings as the best they could do was collection of waste, which is just the beginning of waste management, but lack the adequate facilities for disposal. One fundamental issue is the delayed collection of household solid waste.  In some cases, the wastes are not collected until after a week or two, consequently, the waste bin overflows and litters the surroundings.

Improper waste disposal and lack of reliable transport infrastructure mean that collected wastes are soon dispersed to other localities. Another unwholesome practice is to overload collection trucks with 5-6 tons of waste to reduce the number of trips, necessitating to calls by environmental activist to call for the enactment of relevant legal framework that conforms to the modern waste transportation standard.

Expressing frustration on this incidence, the state Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare said: “We recognise that LAWMA, by using PSP, has done well in the past. But as it is today, about 80 people come into Lagos per hour, only 10 leave per hour, so we have retention of 70 people per hour. 
Each person generates waste and the state now has about 26 million people. 
We are generating above 13 metric tonnes of waste per day. The State could no longer cope with the existing waste disposal system.”

Then, comes the new Lagos Environmental Law passed by the State House of Assembly, which led to the restructuring of waste management system in the state and opening of a $135 million (N85 billion) investment in the sector.The law makes new provisions that protect the interests of existing investments by requiring all commercial entities to have a valid and enforceable contract with a registered operator.

The restructuring of the waste management system creates new operational parameters, which will see the existing PSPs (private sector participants) working in the commercial sector and public areas.

The unprecedented law, which represents some of the most vigorous environmental legislations across the country, also birthed the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).The initiative established to address, enforce and regulate the challenges in the solid waste management systems within the state is focused on improving the environment to make it cleaner, safer and healthier for all Lagos State residents, while also improving operational efficiency.

One of the major highlights of the law is the introduction of the Public Utilities Levy (PUL) which will be a property-based charge paid into the Lagos State Environmental Trust Fund.

The fund will be managed by a board of SEC regulated, independent trustees from the private sector who are accountable to the people of
Lagos State and will ensure the judicious use of the resources to meet the state’s sustainability goals.

It also replaces all existing LAWMA charges and will drive the development of advanced technology, fund physical infrastructure and services.Currently, practically all the municipal waste generated in the state ends up in landfills or illegally dumped in the Lagos lagoon unlike most developed countries around the world like Sweden that have achieved success with their zero to landfill initiatives.

But the completion of a 24-hour waste management depot by an environmental utility group, Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited as part of the new environmental policy of Lagos State Government encapsulated in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) has opened a new vista to refuse management in the state.

The depot located in Ogudu is the result of extensive collaboration between the company’s technical and planning teams as well as Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).It is designed to oversee and provide maintenance services for the company’s multidimensional waste management fleet, ranging from walking-floor trailers, compactors, tippers, skips, tricycles and operational vehicles, which will all be embedded with innovative radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

It will also include on-demand maintenance and servicing bays, truck wash stations, fueling stations, hostels, canteens, health centres, parking and more.According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Visionscape West Africa, Mr. John Irvine, the opening of the new Ogudu depot will be of enormous benefit to the people of Lagos. 
“It fully incorporates key safety features including maintenance workshops that will offer 24-hour fleet maintenance service for the waste management vehicles which will serve all areas within the state. The depot will also be used for specialist training which each driver must undergo in order to drive any vehicles in the Visionscape fleet.”
Irvine also disclosed that the second phase of the plan by Visionscape to clean up the state in conjunction with government agencies, is the door-to-door collection service, which would commence, in the 4th quarter of 2017.
Reiterating the state’s commitment to a functional, robust and sustainable waste management system aimed at uplifting Lagos as one of the cleanest cities in the world, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode said his dream, all along, had always been to positively affect the state as far as waste management is concerned, and that his commitment to follow it through was unwavering.   

According to him, the soft launch of the new waste management policy was a dream come true, and a demonstrable evidence of what determination and proper planning could bring into fruition. 
He said: “Coming here and seeing these fantastically looking vans and trucks of Visionscape that would be used for waste management in the state is inspiring and encouraging. This is just a small bit of what we intend to launch through the CLI in days to come.
“I must say I am one of the happiest persons in the world today because a lot of people thought that this would not be achieved but here we are today launching the first phase.“I just want to say here that we have always believed in Visionscape and if not, we would not have chosen the consortium to do this for us. We firmly believe in the firm; we are standing by them because we know they can do it and they will do it and make Lagos to be the cleanest city in the world by the grace of God.
“We are very glad and satisfied with the giant strides Visionscape is taking in ensuring that we achieve the aim that we have all sat down to set. I just want to admonish members of staff of the firm that apart from what they would be paid, they should see this as their own contribution to making Lagos what we all want it to be, which is to become the cleanest city in the world.”

For Visionscape’s Executive Director, Mr. Harry Ackerman, the company was delighted to be part of the journey to make Lagos a clean state, assuring that modern techniques and technologies in waste management would be deployed to provide top class services for the people.
He said: “Our top priority is to ensure that the management and the waste management needs of Lagos are met. We will do this by implementing sustainable long-term solutions that are tailor-made for Lagos specifically.
“We have also developed sound business models, processes and technologies which are a central component of our integrated waste management plan. We are refurbishing, building and upgrading waste management facilities located in different parts of the state. These include engineered sanitary landfills, transfer loading stations, material recovering facilities and multiple maintenance centres.”

For Dr. Babatunde Adejare, the innovative environmental utility group, should be commended for investing in Nigeria during a period of economic recession and inflation considered unhealthy by most investors.

“We believe in Visionscape. We are standing by you. We know you can do it. With your capabilities and clout, Lagos State will be the cleanest city in the world. We will work with you in every way and we will make it happen together. This is your Lagos, our Lagos,” the Commissioner averred.
He called on Lagosians to embrace the Cleaner Lagos Initiative which will add value to the quality of life in the city and stressed that the Ambode government will not dodge challenges but face it head on to deliver solutions.
On the issue of PSP operators, he said efforts were on going to resolve the issue amicably, asserting, “we will work together. They are our people. As agents of change, we all need ourselves and we should encourage the new culture. Research has shown that Lagosians are not dirty people but we have a challenge with visitors to Lagos and we have resolved to continue to educate them.”

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Solid waste
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