Lagos introduces major environmental protection reforms
• Structures on sewage systems without approval to be demolished
• Commercial drivers must have litterbins in their vehicles
• Residents to obtain permits before sinking boreholes
• Penalties to range from N250,000 to N5m or imprisonment
As part of major internal improvements backed by the new Environmental Management and Protection Bill, passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, KAI (Kick Against Indiscipline) will be transformed into the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps Agency which will spearhead enforcement of the stringent penalties imposed on defaulters.
Plans have been set in motion to realign the roles and responsibilities of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officers who will now be LASECORPS(Lagos State Environmental Corps) officers. The agency will be tasked with monitoring and maintaining surveillance along the highways, streets and public drainages, canals, markets and parks and will have the primary responsibility of ensuring that citizens fulfill their civic duty by paying the Public Utilities Levy- a property-based charge, payable by property occupants for the management of solid and liquid waste, wastewater and environmental intervention for Lagos State.
Speaking at the signing of the new Environmental Bill last week Wednesday, His Excellency Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode said “Compliance is the key. The burden of the cost of providing these services will remain low if everyone does their part and pays their Public Utilities Levy.
“With the newly positioned LASECORPS, we will work within the community to enforce the new laws. The state will have a zero-tolerance policy for offenders because simply put, disregarding payment of your PUL or flouting the new regulations ultimately promotes activities that lead to the loss of lives.” He went on further to say “The Public Utility Levy which is to replace all service fees previously paid to the waste management authorities is an annual charge that will take effect as the rollout commences. We have worked closely with the public in determining the rates and have succeeded in keeping this levy relatively low. The PUL will be a major contribution to the state’s ongoing efforts to address severe challenges that are unique to Lagos because of rising urbanisation. The money will be held in the Environmental Trust Fund and managed meticulously by a Board of independent, SEC regulated trustees”.
LASECORPS’s performance evaluations and remuneration will be tied directly to the number of actionable fines they issue for non-compliance. The Environmental Corps will be supported by PUMAU (Public Utilities Monitoring Assurance Unit), a unit that will have oversight responsibility by using innovative monitoring tools to ensure the new standards are effectively enforced.
The Lagos State Government said defaulters of these laws will face stiff penalties from the government which include heavy fines ranging from N250,000 to N5,000,000 and/or imprisonment.
“The primary driver of the new bill and the initiatives that we have undertaken is not just cosmetic but to save lives. Therefore, we will unapologetically prosecute offender to the full extent of the law. We will make CEOs accountable, from the very top to the bottom, and the law is very specific about the consequences of non-compliance,” the governor expressed emphatically.
Another strong highlight of the new law is the prohibition of street trading as it specifically stated that “It is an offence to engage in street trading along the major highways and streets of Lagos and sell in an unapproved market in Lagos while every owner, tenant and occupier of any shop, kiosks, space or stall in any market within the state shall on a regular basis ensure the cleanliness of his space.”
In a similar vein, it is now mandatory for every commercial vehicle in Lagos State to carry a litterbin for the use of the passengers so that passengers will not throw waste onto the road from the vehicle. “If the driver fails to provide the litter bin, the driver will also be penalized alongside the passenger or the occupier of the vehicle who commits the offence”, stated the law.
The government is also planning a clampdown on all illegal structures on sewage systems without approval as such structures will be demolished. Also in the new law, anyone who wants to a sink borehole or any structure connected with the supply of water must obtain permit from the office of drainage services.