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Lagosians worry over wastes, flooding as plastics take over

By Jesutomi Akomolafe
16 June 2021   |   4:07 am
With threat of flooding as a result of blocked drains, Lagosians have said attitudinal change by residents could avert flooding in the megacity.

‘good attitude imperative to checking improper waste disposal’
With threat of flooding as a result of blocked drains, Lagosians have said attitudinal change by residents could avert flooding in the megacity.

At present, waste management has become an additional strain to the challenges confronting Lagos, which include traffic congestion and air pollution.

While there have been some improvements in the areas of waste policies, enforcement team from Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and several platforms for recyclers, compliance from residents have not been feasible as they still dispose of their waste indiscriminately, leading to blocked drains and channels.

According to a resident, Kugbolu Matthew, it is not uncommon to see people drop pet on roads and streets.

Mathew, who lives in Mafoluku area of Oshodi, said the attitude of Lagosians leave much to be desired.

He said: “The indiscriminate disposal of waste is damaging the street as well as blocking the drains during the rainy season.

“People here are just careless about it even with waste bins. Most of the houses beside the canals here suffer a lot when rain falls. Many waste and plastics are usually dropped on the streets, thereby blocking movement. Lagosians need to be careful with the disposal of waste, knowing that we all will suffer for this,” he said.

A trader, Shonibare Kafayat, said although she sells PET drinks, she makes efforts to advise her customers to dispose their wastes properly.

“I sell all types of drinks from bottle to plastic and I do advise buyers to take the plastics to their houses and use them instead of dropping them at the front of my shop. It is difficult for people to listen because after drinking, they just drop them and move on.

“The government is not even enforcing its laws which have to do with indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste.

“People often do that because they know LAWMA will come and evacuate the refuse.

“Someone once told me that the waste management agency wants the environment to be littered for them to be active. He added that since they get paid for cleaning the roads, they need the road to be littered.”

Also, Chinedu Okeke, who lives in Mushin Olosha, another area where refuse is disposed indiscriminately, revealed that there was never a day flood had not affected his rooms, kitchen and bathroom since the rainy season set in.

“We were close to the canal and a major cause of this problem is that once the drainages get blocked, it becomes hard for water to flow freely and there the gutter is not even wide enough to accommodate the waste people drop in the system. Lagos is a mega city, there should be laws to punish offenders and LAWMA should also have an enforcement team,” he said.

Another resident in Ketu, Lawrence Abigail, explained that it is usually muddy when it rains and all the drainages usually give up bottles on the road, making it difficult for people to use the road.

“It is like people here are not responsible and do not know that their actions affect others’ sanity. As centre of excellence, Lagosians need to be responsible in disposing of these things. We cannot ask the government to ban plastic drinks but we can be responsible in our own way.”

For the founder of Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC), Doyinsola Ogunye, many residents have already cultivated the habit of throwing their refuse inside the drains whenever it rains.

According to her, there is need for them to be sensitised to avert danger that follows indiscriminate waste disposal.

She revealed that within the last 18 months, MEDIC, a  Non-Government Organisation (NGO), had recovered over 200 tonnes of waste from pet bottles.

Doyinsola, who has been at the forefront in the fight against indiscriminate disposal of waste, stated that the coastal lines and seashores had been defaced, thereby increasing the chances of survival of some aquatic animals.

Doyinsola urged residents to be socially responsible in the fight and tasked community members to call out defaulters on social media to enable enforcement agencies to punish them.

“I am encouraging communities within the state to desist from indiscriminate disposal of plastics and they should also call out those that are defaulting. With this, we can have a safer and saner Lagos,” she said.

Also, the state Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello, said the nonchalant attitude of some residents was slowing successes recorded in flood control by the government.

He called for a change of attitude from the residents to prevent flash flooding.

Bello charged residents to complement its effort at cleaning primary and secondary channels by cleaning tertiary drains that run across residences.

The commissioner regretted that even commercial concerns and companies were also guilty of not cleaning their drains, but would rather leave them, waiting for the government to undertake the task.

He added that investigations by officials of the ministry in the state after the last rainfall revealed that flash floods occurred as most tertiary drains were blocked with refuse, thus spewing water onto the roads.

Bello said the people should realise that it portends dangers when tertiary drains are littered with refuse as this could bring about unexpected destruction and fatalities.

The commissioner added that part of what could be done was to increase the number of environmental health officers to monitor the drains regularly.

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