Oresanya: 10 Years Of Managing LAWMA
TEN years ago, the Lagos State government, under the leadership of former governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, came under intense pressure to reorganise waste management operations, as the entire state was nearly “overrun by heaps of refuse.”
The parlors state of the environment, which nearly resulted in public epidemic, attracted severe criticisms both from within and out side the state. The state of Lagos environment and waste management was so bad that any new visitor won’t fail to notice it when entering the state either through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja or other borders.
The stretch from Lagos-Ibadan expressway from the Toll Gate to Ojota and other border areas of Badagry, Ikorodu and Sagamu were no exemptions with irritating sight of decomposing refuse on both sides of the roads.
The situation became a big threat to human health, which the media had to feast on daily basis. Other areas where residents of Lagos competed for space with heaps of refuse include Mushin, Obalende, Ijora Badia, Ajegunle, Oshodi and even Ikeja that houses the State House, Alausa.
The agency, responsible for waste management was then almost moribund until the appointment of Mr. Ola Oresanya on May 23, 2005, to head and reinvigorated the operations of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
Oresanya and his dedicated team, with the strong backing of Tinubu, the media, corporate organisations and other concerned citizens of the state, went into swift action by commencing immediate evacuation and clearing refuse heaps off Lagos environs.
While it appeared to be an impossible task then, committed members of the Lagos State House of Assembly gave LAWMA strong force by enacting laws that gave it more powers to carry out its duties, while the Executive gave it the financial support.
Oresanya confessed in one of his interactions with the media sometime ago: “The huge success of LAWMA today in rescuing Lagos from the jaws of refuse heaps was a combined effort of the government, the media, corporate bodies and Lagosians.”
The effort did not stop there. Oresanya and his LAWMA team, Mrs. Jigoho Ogun, Rev. Deji Koko, Eng. Kosegbe, Mrs. Folashade Kadiri and many others took another bold step in redeeming the various dumpsites across the state.
To achieve this, several millions of naira was spent by the state government through LAWMA. “The state of the dumpsites are testimonies Lagosians can attest to today even though there is still more to be done” Oresanya enthused.
To complement the operations of the major dumpsites, LAWMA also commenced construction of Transfer Loading Station (TLS) with organised Public Private Partnership (PPP). Today, over six standard functional TLS are in operation across Lagos. LAWMA made remarkable achievements Obalende which some people used to refer to as home of refuse.
Conspicuous was the humongous refuse that once ‘resided’ under the Obalende Flyover. Mushin was also freed from the grip of refuse while one would find it difficult to get a suitable adjective to describe the redemption LAWMA brought to Lagos Island in terms of refuse management.
Fortunately, the outgoing state governor, Babatunde Fashola inherited LAWMA when he became governor in 2007 as he also demonstrated unparalleled commitment to waste management.
Under the Fashola led government, waste management moved away from the traditional waste evacuation to wealth creation, infrastructure building and skill acquisition.
More trucks were injected into waste management services with other valuables including human capital development.
Commercial organisations, international organisations and others began to see the need to partner with the Lagos State government in the area of waste management.
To cap it all, LAWMA extended its operations to standard medical waste management. It also created thousands of jobs in the area of street sweeping, PSP, and training. Oresanya is a recognised authority in Waste Management and Environmental Development in Africa.
A Geology degree holder from the University of Ibadan, and Environmental Management and Ecology from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, he is also an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
He was a member of the design review team of Keele Valley Landfill Site, Ontario, Canada and he also supervised World Bank-sponsored Lagos Landfill Site Design And Construction, Lagos. A part-time senior lecturer in Waste Management and Toxicology, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and Chairman, Lagos Metropolitan Governance and Development Project Waste Management sector unit (World Bank-Assisted Project) he has over 25 years post-graduate working experience in Waste Management with extensive specialization in landfill design and operations.
He has been elected to several scientific academies including Nigerian Mining and Geo-Science Society (MNMGS), Nigerian Environmental Society (MNES), Vice Councilor, Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON). He served as the Chairman Technical Working Committee on Medical Waste Management in Lagos and has received several local and international awards and honorary degrees for his work in Sustainable Waste and Environmental Management.
His publications include: Solid Waste Management and Policy (Ford Foundation/Development Initiative Network 2002); and Assessment of Urban Solid Waste Management Practices.