Concerns as Lagos council enforces open burning of refuse
Residents of Ikotun-Igando Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) have raised the alarm over constant harassment by council officials on alleged open burning of refuse.
Their worry is that the right to enforce environmental laws rests on the state’s Ministry of Environment and agencies, not councils, which use such incidents to extort money from them.
Some officials of the council were recently seen enforcing law against open burning of refuse through issuance of notices to residents in the Isheri area and asking defaulters to pay certain fines, ranging from N40, 000 to N65, 000.
In the notice sighted by The Guardian, it emphasised the effect and impact of open burning on the environment and health hazards it poses. Speaking on the development, one of the Environmental Officers in the council, who pleaded anonymity, reiterated the council’s support for clean air in communities, adding that the state government also maintains a zero-tolerance to refuse burning, which has been declared as unlawful.
The official said: “According to Section 14 (A and B) of the Lagos State’s environmental sanitation law, no person shall burn or cause to be burnt, waste of any description on a tenement, or dump waste at any place other than a waste disposal site. Any violation of this law is liable to terms of imprisonment or fine or both, violators caught in the act will face severe penalties, including N50, 000 fine.
“We are operating with the legal department under the environmental department in the council. Furthermore, the department issues notices and prosecutes violators. This prohibition on refuse burning is not a recent development. The state government officially enacted this law back in 2010, making the announcement widely known through various media channels.”
However, another source at the council told The Guardian that the so-called officers from the council enforcing the environmental law are carrying out illegal duties. The source alleged that some of the officers were sent out by politicians to extort money from unsuspecting residents under the guise of enforcing law against open burning of refuse.
But reacting, Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Mrs. Bola Ajao, emphasised that any issue pertaining to the environment, including enforcement and burning of refuse falls under its agency.She stated that local councils do not have the authority to enforce environmental laws or address environmental offences.
“Their primary duty is limited to overseeing environmental sanitation, ensuring that the local environment remains clean and hygienic. Therefore, the power to serve notices or enforce environmental regulations lies solely with LASEPA, the designated agency responsible for environmental protection and preservation within Lagos State,” she said.
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