Saturday, 30th September 2023

Outcry as residents, cleaners convert Oke-Afa canal to dumpsite

By Eniola Daniel
20 March 2023   |   4:11 am
Lagos residents have raised the alarm over the conversion of Oke-Afa canal into a dumpsite. In January 2014, 12 years after the tragic Ikeja Cantonment Bomb blasts, which led to the death of over 1,200 people,.

The blocked canal yesterday: PHOTOS: ENIOLA DANIEL

•It’s illegal for our sweepers to dump refuse into the canal, says LAWMA

Lagos residents have raised the alarm over the conversion of Oke-Afa canal into a dumpsite. In January 2014, 12 years after the tragic Ikeja Cantonment Bomb blasts, which led to the death of over 1,200 people, the then Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola formally unveiled the 2.1km Ejigbo-Ajao Estate Link bridge to ease traffic congestion on the Isolo-Ikotun Road.

While this has helped connect the Canoe and Oke-Afa area to Ajao Estate, traders and residents of the area, including sweepers, have converted the canal to a dump site.
For months, The Guardian watched sanitation workers along the road sweep and drop wastes right inside the canal. One of the reasons this trend continues is the absence of cart vehicles to pick dirties after sweeping.
While there is a spot created for traders to drop their wastes in canoe market, food sellers and others selling beside the canal are always dropping solid wastes in the canal and the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), not coming to the area as at when due has led to the canal being littered with wastes. Also, fire is set on the waste at times to reduce the volume.
When asked why the workers drop waste inside the canal after sweeping, a supervisor of Cleaner Lagos in charge of the area, Deborah Bamigbowu denied knowing of the trend.  
Bamigbowu said: “Those dropping waste in the canal are not my people. I instructed my people to drop dirt, where traders at the Canoe Market are dropping their refuse, we don’t drop anything inside the canal.
“When we sweep, we drop our dirt in Chivita compactors and when there is a lot of dirt, we drop the refuse around the dumping ground within Chivita. I also ask my people to clean the canal, not to drop waste in it.
One of the business owners accused of dropping waste in the canal, Bridge Sports Bar, also denied.  Supervisor of the bar, Amaka Godwin, said: “We pay N5,000 every month for our wastes to be taken away. So, the allegations is unfounded, it’s not true. Anyone with evidence should come out.
Responding to questions on the disappearance of small carts used by sweepers on the roads, MD/CEO, LAWMA, Ibrahim Odumboni, said: “The carts being used years back were for sweepers to sweep and pack silt, while working along their routes. It was an idea introduced by LAWMA with the intention to ease sweepers’ activities. However, there were complaints from the sweepers, which was why the carts were not replaced.
“We discontinued the use because there were no storage spaces for the carts on all our routes across the state and it could be mistaken for another dump area. Residents might take advantage of it and start dumping there, thereby creating another illegal dump. Hence the carts got spoiled due to exposure to rain and water, since they were made with metal sheets.
The refuse carts also prevent the sweepers from using C-caution signs. It didn’t make sweeping seamless, as they have to drag, pull along when sweeping. And since they are the ones on the road and their safety is of utmost importance, they opted for C-caution and the Authority had no choice than to listen to them.”
He added: “Some sweepers complained of the fact that it was not easy to push the carts around, they preferred sacs, which they could easily drag along the road.
On why sweepers pack refuse by the side after sweeping, he said: “The bagged refuse or silt left at the roadside by the sweepers are being collected on a regular basis by LAWMA. The practice is for sanitation workers to sweep and gather waste materials, for seamless evacuation by LAWMA waste collection trucks. There is a provision for that in highway waste collection. The trucks go around and pick all these bagged wastes.”
Responding to dropping of dirt in the Oke-Afa canal, he said: “It is illegal for any of our sweepers to dump refuse into the canal or drainage. We hold regular sensitisation sessions with our sanitation workers, and they are educated on what is expected of them. We have not received such complaints but will appreciate it if we get evidence of sweepers caught engaging in such acts, so they can be disciplined as deemed appropriate. The Oke-Afa report will be investigated and necessary sanctions would be taken if found to be true. They have been warned severely.”

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