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Residents agonise over poorly managed dumpsites

By Azeez Olorunlomeru 
05 February 2023   |   3:34 am
With more than 20 million residents generating about 13,000 metric tonnes of waste daily, managing waste in a state like Lagos remains a daunting assignment.

Scavengers at Olusosun Dumpsite, Ojota (Inset) The dumpsite at Oko Filling Bus Stop, Igando PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

With more than 20 million residents generating about 13,000 metric tonnes of waste daily, managing waste in a state like Lagos remains a daunting assignment.

While the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) has been doing its best to rid the state of filth, or at best keep it within a manageable limit, the final destination of these refuse – the dumpsites do not appear to receive the attention that they deserve. Consequently, they pose a dire health risk to those living or doing business around them.
For instance, both Olusosun and Igando dumpsites where tonnes of dirt are deposited daily occupy large expanses of land in strategic parts of the state, that are densely populated. The poor management of these sites has ensured that they constitute an environmental nuisance to residents of the areas where they are located. 
Worried by the environmental pollution, and attendant health hazards posed by these dumpsites, the residents want them relocated to other areas that are fit for purpose, stressing that their continued operation in residential areas has become a major source of concern to residents.  
House owners and tenants in affected areas maintain that they are now used to shutting their windows all-day because the stench oozing from the dumpsites is inimical to their health. This, of course, leaves them with no option but to battle with unfavourable temperatures within their apartments.
Road users are not spared the ordeal as commuters heading towards Igando, from Isheri, are usually assailed by a barrage of pungent odour, from Lanre Bus Stop where Solus One, a major dumpsite is located. As the trip progresses, the commuters are yet again made to inhale foul odour oozing from a bigger dumpsite and landfill – Solus Three located at Oko Filling Bus Stop.
Once located in the outskirts, the Olusosun Landfill has “found its way” into the city due to urban development.
The 100-acre dumpsite is reputed to be one of the largest both in Africa and in the world. The site receives up to 10, 000 tonnes of rubbish each day, and waste from around 500 containers are shipped into the site daily, a substantial portion of it, electronic waste. 
The Igando Landfill, on its part, occupies eight hectares, and more than over 1, 000 scavengers “feed” on both landfills daily.
However, one thing that is synonymous with Olusosun and Igando dumpsites is the fact that miles away from them, residents and passersby are constantly assaulted by the stench they emit, which is attributable to the mismanagement of the site.   
In the past, efforts were made by concerned authorities to address this menace, but not much was achieved. Consequently, some residents have abandoned their houses and relocated elsewhere, while those without options and those that have grown thick skins have stayed put.  
A former resident of the Lanre area of Igando, Michael Hogan, stated that the obnoxious smell coming from the dumpsite got to a stage where “I had to relocate my family to a safe environment, and planning to join them when my rent expires.” 
However, The Guardian gathered that the stench from the dumpsite is becoming unbearable and water in the neighbouhood is unsafe for consumption. 
While charging the government to relocate the dumpsites, one of the residents of Olusosun, Mr. Kola Adedayo, said that during the tenure of former governor Babatunde Fashola, the dumpsite was efficiently managed, with chemical substances routinely sprayed to reduce the odour drastically.
Adedayo said that relocating the two major dumpsites from residential areas would insulate the communities from air pollution, and medical challenges, which they currently grapple with including Anosmia – the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial; diarrhea and malaria.
Mrs. Omolola Alebiosu, another resident of Olusosun neighborhood said that the obnoxious smell oozing from the dumpsites has caused her family to continually visit hospitals for attention, while more than 50 per cent of the family’s earnings are spent on treating related illnesses.
A survey carried out by a journal of Sustainable Development, entitled, “Impact of Sanitary Landfills on Urban Residential Property Value in Lagos State, Nigeria, and published by the Canadian Centre of Science and Education, said that landfills have a diminution effect on the value of residential property, even though other researches have contradicted the claim in some instances. 
Furthermore, another study entitled, “Impacts of Waste Dumps on the Health of Neighbours: A Case Study of Olusosun Waste Dump, Ojota, Lagos State, Nigeria,” by Olufemi Adedamola Oyedele, and Adeniyi Olufolahan Oyedele, maintained that waste dumps, incinerator plants, and landfills may emit toxic compounds that are detrimental to human health and wellbeing. 
Exposed waste dumps and landfills, the study stated, constitute an eyesore where they are sited, and to the residents, even as poorly managed and wrongly sited waste dumps in living areas may serve as pathogen and epidemiology centres. 
It further explained that germs (viruses, bacteria, and fungi) breed regularly in waste dumps and landfills. Waste dumps, incinerators, and landfills may also emit toxic compounds that are detrimental to human health and well-being. 
In addition to all these, the study added that some people that are doing business around the Olusosun dumpsite were found to be infected with warts, a type of skin infection caused by the Human PapillomaVirus (HPV). The infection causes rough, skin-colored bumps to form on the skin, and the virus is highly contagious.
Warts noticed in some persons, including traders and artisans (who had been doing business for up to three years) and the abnormality in some children (whose pregnancies were conceived while their mother plied their trade around the waste dump) prompted this study.
The Guardian further gathered that the inhalation of poisonous gases over a long period could be very dangerous to the body.  
For instance, pregnant women who inhale high levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other poisonous gases may give birth to abnormal children, or have premature births.
Commenting on the issue, an environmental expert, Adedamola Ogunsesan said that government must pay adequate attention to waste that go into the landfill because of the chemical substance that is always part of the waste, which leads to environmental pollution.
Ogunsesan stated that all over the world, the standard practice is that areas that are to be used as landfills are usually sand-filled either to prevent the percolation of water into the soil so that the pipe-borne water in houses around there is not affected.
Ogunsesan, a project manager blamed ineffective physical planning as being responsible for residential buildings cropping up within the fringes of the Olusosun dumpsite because the facility was factored in the master plan, and existed there long before people started moving closer.  
He, however, noted that the rate at which illegal structures spring up in and around the landfill without legal titles is alarming. 
Commenting on the health implications of having dumpsites within, or not far away from residential areas, a public health expert, Busayo Solomon, disclosed that living around dumpsites can predispose people to a lot of diseases, including cancer, and respiratory issues. Exposure to biological hazards is also considered very detrimental to the well-being of humans.
When contacted on phone, the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said that he was out of the state on official assignment, and directed The Guardian to the General Manager of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Dr. Dolapo Fasawe. Fasawe’s mobile phone rang severally, but she failed to pick up her calls.
Also contacted, the state Commissioner for Information Gbenga Omotoso, declined to comment on the issue and asked The Guardian to contact the Managing Director of the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), Mr. Ibrahim Adejuwon Odumboni. Odumboni, neither picked up his calls nor replied to SMS and WhatsApp messages sent to him.

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