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Confronting the Lagos refuse


The large amount of refuse generated daily in Lagos is such that can give any government sleepless nights.

The high population density of the city coupled with the existence of so many shanties spread across the state has often rendered useless and inconsequential the various strategies put in place by successive governments to rid the state of mountains of debris.

Starting with the regime of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, part of the strategy was the establishment of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a very clean Lagos environment.


The last Saturday of every month was then set aside for the task of clearing refuse.

Everyone or at least a large percentage of responsible citizens came out on such days to clear their surroundings while government officials led by the Commissioner for Environment moved round to monitor the level of compliance and also to ensure that all refuse generated in the exercise were cleared of the roads by LAWMA and taken to the designated centres.

The same trend continued under Tinubu’s successor, Babatunde Raji Fashola.

However, for some reasons best known to the incumbent Governor Akinwumi Ambode, the last Saturday of the month arrangement was quashed and the government announced new measures of dealing with the issue of refuse.

Few months later, however, the whole metropolis was overtaken by huge refuse and all eyes were on the government to come out with an urgent solution to the refuse debacle in order to nip a sudden outbreak of epidemic in the bud.

And the government, responsible and responsive as it is proved equal to the task as it signed on another body to handle the refuse affairs.

Soon, a company called Visionscape came on board and began to make its presence felt in many parts of the metropolis with its heavy paraphernalia obviously battle-ready to combat the Lagos refuse like never before.

Part of the plans of the new body was also to engage as many personnel as might be necessary to ensure a cleaner Lagos.

After an initial delay by what appeared as either technical or logistic hitches, the company swung up and went into work.

Right now, almost all parts of the metropolis have started feeling the impact of Visionscape. However, having observed its operation for a while, some appraisal and suggestions suffice.

To begin with, it is doubtful if the company has actually come to terms with the heavy task it has taken upon itself, or whether it has done a proper survey of what will be needed to get the work done satisfactorily.

This is because the number of refuse bins put at each road junction has proved inadequate as they get filled up almost immediately they are emptied and then the floor is then littered within a short while.

Another noticeable problem Visionscape must address is that of its large trucks used in evacuating the debris which end up littering everywhere again because the trucks are left uncovered and as they move, much of the garbage gets blown away, littering the roads! This trend will never ensure a cleaner Lagos.

Another problem one can also envisage is that Visionscape is perhaps signing on too many personnel than is actually necessary.

This may later result in problem of huge salary commitments which the company may find difficult to handle in the future.

From a close observation, many of the newly-engaged workers are either idle or assigned just a little work daily whereas each worker ought to have something to engage him or her for the number of hours for which they were expected to be on, even if it means moving from one point to another.

For instance, all the refuse points must be properly manned and monitored to enforce compliance with cleanliness.

In a highly populated metropolis such as Lagos where most people act most times nonchalantly especially in the issue of refuse disposal, leaving refuse points unmonitored will never ensure a clean environment.

If Visionscape employs only the number of workers who are really needed, it will be easier to pay good salaries and ensure the happiness and general well being of its workforce.

Another area Visionscape should consider is putting its operations at the night.

Lagos is such a horrendous traffic arena and what Visionscape needs in order to perform its functions effectively is prompt movement of the debris and this can only be achieved at night.

Besides, trying to pack heaps of refuse during the daytime adds another dimension to traffic congestion which can be avoided if refuse are packed at night.

All that is needed is for adequate securityprovided by the Nigerian Police to be guaranteed for its night workers.

In addition to packing refuse, all market areas, bus stops and other noticeable dirty spots can be swept at night and everyone would wake up each day to find a spick and span metropolis to the delight of all.

Oyewusi, an educationist, lives in Lagos.

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