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Lagos State poised to end the waste challenge, says Ambode



Despite the enormous task involved, effective waste management is one of the basic services expected of any good government and in deference to the current reality in Lagos State, the Ambode-led administration says it is poised to deliver a clean and healthy city.

In a press statement entitled ‘Ten Things To Know About Lagos State’s Waste Struggles’, which highlighted vital aspects of her waste management journey, the administration said “Lagos, as Africa’s most populated city, is managing waste generated by over 20 million residents running into 13,000 metric tonnes daily with old infrastructure constructed in the ‘70s for a population of 3 million!

“With the rapid urbanization of Lagos and the significant rise in the state’s waste generation, prospective challenges are bound to be numerous and unavoidable. Therefore, any individual or body managing a project involving this magnitude of people for even having the courage to dare should be commended.” Concerning the face-off between Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and Private Sector Participants (PSPs), the statement stressed: “PSPs have not been forced out of operation, as it is being peddled around. Rather, they are now called Waste Collection Operators (WCOs), who have been recertified, licensed and provided with loan facility by the state government for repairs and purchase of new equipment. WCOs are now focused on commercial waste, while Visionscape is the WCO in charge of residential waste. The role of LAWMA is now basically regulatory.

“Though it appeared that the previous system was working but as waste was disappearing from the roads and houses, it was building up elsewhere and constituting potentially catastrophic incidences. Ideally, waste sorting, recycling and disposal should occur at an engineered landfill. However, for decades, Lagos only had dumpsites at Olusosun, Solous, Ikorodu, and Igando. It became necessary to upgrade existing infrastructure, redesign the components; and increase efficiency.

“The twenty-five years old Olusosun dumpsite, which is a ticking time bomb had long been marked for closure. Although contractors intensified construction of the Transfer Loading Stations and engineered sanitary landfill at Epe to relieve Olusosun; the recent fire at the dumpsite was catalyzed by methane gas combustion, not waste burning – a situation that the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) is designed to prevent.

“The waste management reforms under the CLI are proactive and when fully implemented would prevent similar occurrences. It is an initiative geared towards addressing, enforcing and regulating the challenges in solid waste management systems. Also, it aims to protect the environment, human health and social living standards of Lagosians.”

It disclosed that “2,500 compactors are needed to effectively manage waste in the State but at the point of inception, all waste trucks in Lagos were less than 500. Now, CLI is working with over 400 contractors with the addition of 900 Compactors. This number will continue to grow with contractors under the CLI working to upgrade their equipment and operations.”

It went further: “ CLI is providing jobs and a boost to the economy by offering not only environmental, but also significant economic benefits. The initiative is poised to deliver over 27,500 direct jobs and 6,500 indirect jobs as most of the contractors under the scheme are local companies.

As an integral part of the efforts to make the CLI work, Lagos State plans to campaign for behavioural change among residents, to embrace the three R’s concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle waste and conserve the environment.”
For those wondering why is Lagos still dirty, the statement explained: ‘‘CLI was introduced with agreement that PSPs would transition from residential to commercial waste collection and work closely with the new residential waste collectors to ensure that there were no gaps in service delivery. Unfortunately, there was dissension between operators and government, which led to a court case instigated by the PSPs, who then withdrew from waste collection in the state, leaving the yet to be announced Visionscape Sanitation to handle roadside waste heaps and residential waste collection, simultaneously.

“However, although the expected ‘handshake’ was not initially as smooth as expected, PSPs (now WCOs) have now reached an agreement with the state government and entered into a partnership with Visionscape Sanitation to work to rid Lagos of the unsightly heaps of waste dotting the city. The waste situation has and will continue to improve considerably as all WCOs work closely together to achieve the primary goal of a Cleaner Lagos for all.

The statement added “As with any systemic change, plans earmarked for a long-term period can hardly be carried out as swiftly as would be preferred. Usually, a reformed system cannot be delivered in the short term, patience and support of citizens is required!”

In this article:
Akinwumni Ambode
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