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Lagos residents decry increasing refuse dumps in metropolis

By Tobi Awodipe, Victoria Nwosu, Angela Opara, Adedayo Okusanya and Adetayo Adeowo
28 December 2019   |   4:15 am
As Lagos strives to achieve megacity status, the problem of indiscriminate waste dumping at roadsides, bus stops and other unauthorized spots around the city continue to threaten...

Refuse heap at Agunlejika Bus Stop, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos. PHOTO: Adedayo Okusanya and Angela Opara

Clamour For Return Of Monthly Sanitation
As Lagos strives to achieve megacity status, the problem of indiscriminate waste dumping at roadsides, bus stops and other unauthorized spots around the city continue to threaten this dream and the developmental strides of the state governor. It is no longer news that household waste has found its way back into the street corners of Lagos, taking the state back to the dark days when the metropolis was plagued with refuse and was regarded as one of the dirtiest cities in the world.

In the last couple of years, solid waste has found its way back to major highways, street corners, road medians and drainage channels from Agunlejika to Ijesha, Ilasa to Iyana-Isolo, Mushin to Agege and the island, spreading across all the 20 Local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas of the state.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 2.4 billion people could be at risk of potentially fatal diseases if waste disposal issues persist as is happening presently in Lagos. Worried about the large number of indiscriminate refuse dumps in the state, the Lagos State Government has times without number, declared total intolerance of illegal and reckless waste disposal in unauthorized areas hence the return of the Lagos state Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) who is responsible for the collection of waste in the state.

Speaking to some residents of Isolo Local government area, they opined that the health hazards of refuse being dumped everywhere would become apparent sooner rather than later; lamenting that the dumping of trash indiscriminately has caused lots of adverse effects to both humans and the environment.

Speaking with The Guardian, Halimat Mogaji, said, “The situation is getting out of hand, passing the refuse dumps is an eyesore. Most times I try to avoid walking past the dumps because of the amount of refuse by the roadside. Sadly, there are some food joints right there by the refuse dump where people sit and eat. It is not healthy at all for the human body”.

When asked about the reasons for the illegal dumping of refuse in that part of the area, a resident who identified himself simply as David told The Guardian that most houses around the area are owing LAWMA money, forcing the waste disposal body to abandon them. “Most houses around this axis have accumulated waste disposal bills, some running into years. It is not uncommon to see some houses with accumulated bills of more than N50, 000 to pay to LAWMA. Because the bills have accumulated and they cannot afford it anymore, they do not pay, and so LAWMA stops coming around. Instead, they come out at late at night when most people are asleep to dispose their wastes for free by the roadside”, he said.

He added that others resort to paying truck pushers to dispose their trash who in turn dump them illegally in unauthorized areas at night.

Speaking with some residents of the Amuwo-Odofin local government area, they expressed their anger over the situation and urged for government to intervene as quickly as possible. Ogechi John, a student, said that the sight of the refuse in different junctions around the area was disappointing and sad. “The Government needs to do something fast about this by cleaning up the roads and punishing anyone seen disposing waste because I do not know why people would dispose refuse in such a wrong manner”.

Kayode a trader whose shop is near a refuse dump in the area also appealed to the government to station more workers on the road so that the state can be free from dirt while creating awareness to citizens on the dangers of unlawful dumping of dirt.

A resident of Agunlejika of Itire-Ijesha LCDA recalled sadly of how a couple of years ago, residents made use of the heaps of refuse to give directions to any visitor trying to locate his way within the area. Femi Adebowale, a 400 level student of the Lagos State University (LASU), lamented that it is looking like the government doesn’t care any more about the improper way residents dispose garbage. “Refuse is now being dumped in every corner around the city because the people in charge of refuse disposal have become slack in their duties”, he said.

Also the cancellation of the monthly environmental sanitation by the immediate past administration of the state may have contributed in some way to the buildup of refuse and indiscriminate refuse dumping around the city. “Government needs to put bins in strategic places and anyone who refuses to use them should be prosecuted”, Amarachi Udoh, a trader said. “The streets of Lagos used to be somewhat clean but with the cancellation of environmental sanitation and the confusion in which body collects what refuse, everywhere is now very dirty and disorganized.”

Akerele Johnson said, ‘When it was announced by the immediate past administration that environmental sanitation was canceled, I was among those who were against it, now every street corner, markets and roadside is filled with rubbish. The monthly environmental sanitation helped a bit because everyone is forced to keep their environment clean and the refuse trucks came around to pack the refuse but these days, they hardly come around,” he added.

Abiose Oluwole, a transporter said, “I think it’s better this administration returns to the old way when they employed the services of LAWMA to clean the roads, pack refuse weekly and had monthly sanitations. These refuse dumps everywhere are not good for our health and we are all at risk for air and water borne diseases. If there is an outbreak of any disease as a result of these refuse dumps, a lot of people would be affected. Prevention is better than cure as we all know,” he concluded.

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