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Outlawed cart pushers return to service Lagosians

By Omiko Awa and Gbenga Akinfenwa
19 December 2021   |   4:01 am
Barely four years after the Lagos State government in January 2018, banned the operations of cart pushers and wheelbarrow operators, saying their activities are inimical to the environmental cleanliness of the state, providers of the illegal refuse disposal service are back in business.

cart pushers moving refuse

Barely four years after the Lagos State government in January 2018, banned the operations of cart pushers and wheelbarrow operators, saying their activities are inimical to the environmental cleanliness of the state, providers of the illegal refuse disposal service are back in business. 

Then-Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, in a statement said with the flag-off of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), that the continuous activities of cart pushers would pose a threat to the success of the initiative.
Lagos generates 10, 000 tons of waste daily, which is almost three times higher than what West African nation, Ghana generates daily.
With solid waste management a key factor in the realisation of the state government’s vision of making the state a clean, and prosperous entity, realities on the ground indicated that dire waste management challenges were detrimental to environmental and public health.
Unfortunately, the CLI, which was conceived to provide a holistic solution to waste management in the state, and which represented a new template to redefining solid waste management in the state failed shortly after it came into being. No thanks to the high-powered politics among power brokers, which ensured that the multi-billion naira initiative failed and consequently plunged the state into debt worth billions of naira.  
With the premature death of CLI, some areas in the state are already patronising cart pushers. These areas include Igando, Ikotun, Isheri, Idimu, Abule-Egba, Ile-Epo, Abule-Taylor, Ahmadiyya, Ile-Iwe, Meiran, Agbado-Ijaiye and Kollington, among others.
The Guardian investigation revealed that the main factor that is responsible for the resurgence of the cart pusher is the failure of registered PSP operators to deliver on their mandate. 

Interestingly, the cart pushers are no longer limiting their operations to rural areas, as they operate openly in the urban areas, especially areas where vehicular movements are inhibited by poor road networks. 

Explaining why she patronises cart pushers, Kalifat Adetoun, a restaurateur at Igando, said they are the only alternatives available to residents of the neighbourhood for now, as the official waste collection agencies have not been coming around regularly. 

She said: “Not only are the PSP operators gradually becoming expensive when compared to cart pushers, they are also lackadaisical in their attitude to work as if they are doing the job for free. Most times, they do not come to clear the refuse bins, but later, they would use the police and other security operatives to force people to pay for services, which they never rendered.

Anyone that fails to pay up when they come calling usually has their facilities locked up, including residential structures. At that point, owners of such facilities have to part with some money to have their facilities unsealed. They sometimes go as far as threatening to take us to court, and since we do not have time for all that, we just have to comply.” 
Ajibola Olamide, a salesman, who resides in the same neighbourhood as Adetoun, said it would be impossible to completely do away with cart pushers since the PPP arrangement is no longer serving the people well, unlike when it started newly. 
“At the initial stage of the PPP arrangement, if the service providers failed to come on a particular day, they informed the residents (via messages) when next they would come. Their operations were very smooth then, but things have gone haywire hence the people’s resort to using cart pushers,” he said.  

Miriam Haruna, a landlady and seamstress said people living in the Ikotun, Egan, Isheri and Igando axis have continued to patronise cart pushers because of bad roads, adding that most PSP operators in the axis use heavy-duty vehicles that cannot go through bad terrain without falling off or sinking in the mud. 

According to her, the vehicles sometimes get stuck in the mud for days before they are pulled out and within that period, waste generated would have piled up.
The Guardian also gathered that the PSP operator covering Abule-Egba, Ile-Epo, Abule-Taylor, Ahmadiyya, Ile-Iwe, Meiran, Agbado-Ijaiye and Kollington, has only one functional truck, which is not sufficient to service the area with its teeming population, including major markets. So, the people living around this area have no other choice than to use cart pushers to dispose of their waste.

Moyosore Olawoye, a resident of Ekoro area, disclosed that sometimes, the PSP operator stays away for three months and beyond, and when they eventually show up, it is to demand payment for the period they were not available. 
She said: “It is unhealthy to leave waste in front of homes for long. So, we are left with no other option than to engage the services of cart pushers. And most times, the PSP operators threaten to take us to court for not paying for their services, but the question is, ‘why must we pay for services that have not been rendered?”
For Alhaji Alamu Jubril, a landlord in the Ile-Epo area, the sad aspect of the situation is that people are forced to pay for services that are not rendered, and that is the reason that majority of landlords and tenants use cart pushers.  

According to Mrs. Chinyere James, living at Abule-Egba, cart pushers do not only come cheap, but they are also regular and punctual.

“We do not have to wait for so long to get the cart pushers. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, cart pushers were always around doing their job. I think that the government needs to rejig the initiative to make the operators functional, as well as to regain the people’s confidence,” she noted.
On cart pushers dumping waste in the drainage, a development, which clogs drains, cause flooding and make the streets murky each time it rains, Isiaka Alikali, a cart pusher, said this is not entirely true, as cart pushers usually pay a token to the dumpsites keepers when they empty their carts.

Reacting to the allegations, the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni, said the activities of cart pushers in the state remains outlawed, due to the adverse effects they have on the environment. 
He said: “A cart pusher collects waste from residents and disposes them at unauthorised locations, such as canals, road medians, uncompleted buildings and similar locations, thereby aggravating environmental challenges in the metropolis such as flooding, blocked drains and constitute a health hazard. 
“The PSP scheme has been repositioned by the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to ensure that effective waste management services are rendered to residents in the state. You would recall that the state government, in August 2021, launched 102 waste collection trucks and 100 Double Dino Bins to bolster refuse evacuation operations, and make sure that no part of the state is left behind in the quest to make Lagos cleaner and livable for all.
“We are also revamping landfill sites, to improve the turnaround time of PSP trucks. Waste management activities have, indeed, been stepped up and we urge residents to call LAWMA toll-free line 07080601020 or 617, to report any environmental infractions noticed in their areas, for immediate attention.”