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Lagos residents choking under refuse despite LAWMA’s return

By Gbenga Salau
06 January 2019   |   4:19 am
Despite the return of the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) with its business model, which helped it rid the state of refuse, when it worked alongside Private Sector Partnership (PSP) operators, effective refuse management in the state has remained a major challenge.

Despite the return of the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) with its business model, which helped it rid the state of refuse, when it worked alongside Private Sector Partnership (PSP) operators, effective refuse management in the state has remained a major challenge.Across the state, heaps of refuse, which not long ago were becoming uncommon are now staging a comeback, a development, which has forced residents to charge the government to wake up to its responsibilities.

LAWMA’s return was as a result of the failure of the very elaborate Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), (which was spearheaded by Visionscape Sanitation Solutions), and aimed at ridding the state of mounting debris, which predisposed it to epidemic outbreak.

The CLI was introduced by the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration to, among other things, make the environment cleaner, safer, improve it and generally make it healthier for all Lagosians. But two years after its introduction, most residents of the state were unconvinced that it had succeeded in promoting a harmonised and holistic approach to the challenge of waste management.

At its introduction, Ambode said the initiative was geared towards addressing, enforcing and regulating challenges faced in the solid waste management system in the state, while also aiming to protect the environment, human health and the social living standards of residents of the state.Even though marginal improvement has been recorded in refuse collection in many parts of the state since LAWMA took charge once again, many are quick to conclude that a lot of gaps still exist, and the effectiveness and efficiency with which it carried out the assignment earlier on still lacking.From Badia to Suru, Mazamaza, Mushin Agulejika, Abule Egba, Oshodi, Egbeda, Yaba, Ikotun, Ejigbo, Isolo just to mention a few, the story remains the same.

In these and many other areas of the state, refuse is left un-cleared for weeks, contrary to the one-week interval that used to be the case, as far as the collection of refuse from homes is concerned. Illegal refuse dumpsites, which have continued to sprout up at bus stops, street medians and sundry places are not faring better either, as they are now not evacuated for weeks, thereby constituting an eyesore here and there.

According to Opeyemi Ojo, a resident of Gowon Estate, refuse collectors only recently started coming to the area to cart away refuse and clear the emerging illegal dumpsites, including the one by the bus stop. “But last week, when I was going through Egbeda, I saw heaps of refuse dotting parts of the area,” he said

Bankole Adeshina is worried that after heaps of refuse that dotted Igando-Isheri Road were carted away by the PSP operators, trash is again gradually taking over the median on the road, “and very soon, it would become a source of concern.”He equally decried the attitude of waste collectors, who are in the habit of parking their trucks in the middle of the roads while clearing refuse, and in the process cause traffic snarls.

“Waste collectors when they are doing their assignments park their trucks indiscriminately in the middle of the road. This slows down traffic on the route. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode promised to shut down the dumpsite close to Alimosho General Hospital about 15 months ago, but has failed to do that. This has become an eyesore in the neighbourhood,” he said.

Also, Adebola Ajayi, who resides in the Oshodi area of the state noted that there is a heap of refuse that is getting bigger by the day on Adewale Crescent. Apart from this, roads and drainage networks in the area are gradually being taken over by dirt. For Grace Edema, Abule-Egba, Meiran and Agege have no positive stories to tell despite the return of LAWMA to refuse collection.She said residents were now forced to drop their refuse at bus stops because the PSP operators were no longer coming to pick up the trash.

Edema added that bagged wastes now decorate the median along Meiran Road leading to Ile-Iwe, just as she lamented that Agege stinks as a result of mounting refuse. Corroborating Edema’s view, Moyo Akinfenwa said residents of parts of Abule-Egba have forgotten what it means to have government agents cart their trash away.

According to her, since Visionscape took over the collection of refuse in 2016 or thereabouts, as well as, since the return of LAWMA, many residents of Abule-Egba have been patronising cart pushers as their refuse collection agents. But contrary to claims of poor performance levelled against LAWMA, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Environment, Mukaila Sanusi, said the ministry has been receiving reports that the city is getting cleaner by the day, especially with LAWMA’s return.

He, however, admitted that more job still needs to be done, as a result of the backlog that LAWMA met on resumption, which cannot be cleared quickly.On his part, the Executive Consultant, LAWMA, Mr. Ola Oresanya said PSP operators ought to visit streets once a week to cart away refuse, which was the initial arrangement that was in place.

“We had in place a schedule of one visit to streets weekly and residents were used to that and conscious of the day that they would take their turn. But that arrangement was distorted, and we are trying to rebuild that structure now. Obviously, it would take sometime for that arrangement to be fully in place. So, we appeal for more time to enable us to rebuild those structures so that when residents leave their waste at the doorsteps, PSP operators would seamlessly pick them up weekly. We are trying to change the tide and trend and we have to work with residents. But before we do that, we are still working on those collecting waste from LAWMA to the PSP operators in order to ensure that we have the capacity to execute our plan.” On when Lagosians should expect a refuse-free city, Oresanya said, “If we continue the way we are going, in a matter of weeks we should be there.”

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