Waste Management Legislation in Nigeria: How adequate?
The definition of waste varies depending on the perspective that a writer chooses. However, for ease of reference, waste can be described as an “end”, an unused product of a useful element. We can also describe waste in terms of spoilt item, useless and valueless items, debris, refuse junks and liquid waste etc. Waste can be tangible and intangible. S.20 of the 1999 Constitution, under the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy provides: “The state shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air, land, forest and wild life of Nigeria”. The deduction from the above is that our ground norm referred to environment as PROTECTIVE. In part II of the Second Schedule to the same constitution, issues relating to waste is treated as item of Concurrent Legislation. Thus the Federal Government, the states as well as the Local Government Councils are empowered to legislate on waste/environment. There are several legislations either in form of Acts of National Assembly or as Regulations derivable from the enabling Acts of National Assembly regulating Waste Management at the Federal level in Nigeria. Similarly, each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory has their laws promulgated by their respective Houses of Assembly. The various local governments also have Bye Laws governing waste management in their domains.
Due to constraints of space, we may quickly refer to some of the legislations at the federal level. The principal Law is the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act, formerly Federal Environmental Protection Agency (amendment) Decree No 59 of 1992. The Act makes various provisions and pursuant the powers conferred therein, the National Environmental Health Practice Regulations No. 21 of 2007 was made.
Purposes and Scope of National Environmental Health Practice Regulations No 21
• To provide a guideline for the enforcement of the regulatory powers in the Act, to PREVENT and ABATE nuisance and to PROTECT, PRESERVE and PROMOTE the physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being of the public;
• To PREVENT and CONTROL the incidence of communicable diseases through environmental health intervention;
• To reduce environmental hazard to health, safeguard and maintain aesthetic value of the environment.
• To promote the general welfare of the public by regulating the construction and sanitation of all existing dwellings or thereafter constructed’ and
• Top regulate private and public sector collaboration for the purpose of maintaining adequate sanitation, promoting public health and safety.
In chapter 3 of the Regulations, SS.12 (1) and (2) provides as follows:
S.12 (1). No person shall dispose of any waste whether solid or liquid in an unauthorized place including street, bush, body of water, land, etc. except as approved by the environmental health Authority responsible for the area.
S.12 (2). Dead bodies shall be sanitarily disposed of or buried only in a place approved by the environmental Health Authority in charge of the area.
S.13. No person shall litter waste of any description on any street, premises, drainage, water bodies or any public place.
S.14. Waste sorting and segregation shall start at source of generation, and for this purpose, the color code in schedule III shall apply.
To be continued next week
Alhaji Shehu Sambo, LLB Hons, LL.M, BL, MNIM, FCIT, ACIarb (N) is the Company Secretary of Total Facilities Management Ltd.