It has been mixed tales from residents, government, service providers and stakeholders over sudden reappearance of refuse heaps on Lagos streets. DAYO AYEYEMI reports
When the Lagos State Government floated the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) last year to improve waste collection and management in the metropolis, residents and other stakeholders bought into the idea, looking forward to a cleaner, safer and healthier environment with Visionscape Sanitation Solutions providing the management services.
Four months after the commencement of the new waste collection and management scheme, residents have not stopped lamenting as heaps of refuse have suddenly returned to their communities, with officials from the firm and the government battling to save the situation.
From Agbado-Ijaiye to Oshodi, Mushin, Ojuelegba, Obalende, Lagos Island Central Business District, Sangotedo, Ajah, Awoyaya, Iyana Ipaja, Isolo, Apapa, Okokomaiko and Egbeda among other neighborhoods, the stories are the same as heaps of refuse in these locations have become an eye sore to passersby and residents.
According to official data, refuse generation in Lagos megacity has risen from 12,000 metric tones per day to 30,000mtpd.
Also, overcrowding has not helped matters as over 5,000 new residents arrive in the city every day.
Many of the residents have expressed fear of possible outbreak of epidemic, calling on the government to devise another means of ridding their communities of heaps of refuse.
For Ayo Adedeji, a resident in one of the streets at Palmgrove, Lagos, the authorities should restore the former system where PSP operators moved in to streets to collect refuse.
“As you can see,” Adediji said, pointing to the heap of refuse as Palmgrove Bus-stop, “the entire street in this community is littered with heaps of refuse from residents, and for weeks, this new waste collectors would not pack them.”
For another person in Isheri- Osun area, who simply identified himself as Paul, waste collection in the community has improved unlike one month ago, when the streets were littered with heaps of refuse by residents. “We always pack our refuse in front of the house for waste collectors with truck under Vissionscape to pick up.
They have been doing that recently,” he said. Another resident in one of the inner streets off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, who did not want her name in print, said the sloppy terrain of the street did not give room to trucks to come in, rather “cart pushers do come to pick our refuse.” She said that refuse collection had improved on Allen-Opebi areas but that the company could do better on some refuse’s black spots in Lagos.
Another person, who gave his name as Tony, who resides in Isolo neighbourhood, lamented that for one week now, waste collectors have not come to the vicinity. Consequently, people have been dumping their refuse on one side of the road, making the entire environment stink.
“For one week now, we have not seen them. They are not regular. So people dump their refuse beside the road,” he said. Some residents in Fagba/Ifako Ijaiye neighbourhoods , lamented the slow-pace at which waste collectors respond to the communities. “PSP waste operators don’t come until refuse litter the environment. They are very slow in the manner they response to issues,” they alleged. Many residents have blamed the emergence of refuse’s heaps on Lagos streets on inability of the state government to integrate the former PSP waste managers into the new scheme.
PSP operators’ grouse
An operator with the former waste management firm in Lagos State Private Sector Participation (PSP), Fatai Oni, explained why PSP trucks no longer go into neighbourhoods to collect waste like in the past.
He alleged that apart from giving their jobs to foreign firms with better terms and conditions, the state government has refused to recognise and appreciate the former operators’ roles in keeping the state clean over the years.
Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Tunji Bello, had maintained that investigations had shown that the cart pushers were responsible for most of the illegal dumping of waste in canals and road medians at night.
“What the state government has discovered is that these people use the night to perpetrate all sorts of dastardly acts. They dump refuse indiscriminately on the medians of major roads and highways,” Bello said.
He had earlier in the year read the riot act to cart pushers and wheel barrow operators within the state. Bello on behalf of the state government, declared without equivocation that the activities of these people were banned.
To underscore the readiness of Visionscape to fulfill its mandate, its Chief Executive Officer, John Irvine, in a recent interview with journalists, articulated a roadmap at the end of which he said Lagos residents would be able to appreciate the CLI initiative fully.
“In the waste management industry, this period is usually 18 months and it has stages, which include mobilisation which is for 3-4 months, stabilisation (3-4 months) and the augmentation (3-4 months),” he said, assuring residents that his company, working with other stakeholders, would rid Lagos of waste.
He explained that, usually, in the first cycle. which is the stage Lagos is at the moment, service delivery would take longer because of the integration stage. Officials of CLI have sited instances where wastes resurfaced in unnatural sequences in areas where they had just cleared.
They have been raising concern about the activities of some people who have been working round the clock to sabotage the new waste management policy of the Lagos State Government.
Also, in a recent video that went viral on social media, an official of Visionscape Sanitation Solutions, Mr John Olawale Joseph, had lamented how people were dumping refuse on the same spots in public places, thus frustrating the efforts to rid the State of filth.
Joseph, who is Visionscape’s Area Manager for Lagos Island West, alleged that heaps of refuse sometimes appear overnight in places already cleared by environmental officials, saying that the deliberate sabotage of the project called for concern. In the said video, a man wearing LAWMA uniform was seen fleeing from arrest after illegally dumping waste at the same spot.
Also, the Lagos State Government last Tuesday said it had arrested four officials of a PSP operator in waste management, Ayomide Olayinka Ventures, for dumping waste on the street along the Central Business District (CBD) of Lagos Island in the middle of the night.
In a statement signed by Kehinde Bamigbetan, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, the government said the suspects were arrested by security operatives in the early hours of Tuesday while they were using their compactor with registration number FST 908 XG to dump refuse on the street.
Those arrested include the driver of the compactor, Oloruntele Adekunle, and three others, whose company is said to have its office at No 1A, Kudirat Abiola Way, Old Oregun Road, Ikeja.
Decrying indiscriminate dumping of refuse on Lagos roads, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu, tasked market women in the metropolis to discharge their refuse in appropriate and designated points of collection for proper management.
Giving the charge during a stakeholders’ meeting with Lagos Island’s market women, the Oba decried indiscriminate dumping of refuse on roads by traders, enjoining them to play by the rules and should not patronize cart pushers. Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Babatunde Durosime- Etti, stated that Cleaner Lagos Initiative was introduced to upgrade waste management system in the state to meet the need of people in Lagos State.
Under the new dispensation, he said the state government now had a modern engineering landfill and new waste management team. Iyaloja-General of Nigeria, Mrs Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, also urged market women to comply with the state environmental.
For efficient waste management in Lagos State, Vissionscape and its official need to double their efforts in the area of capacity utilisation and quick response to emergency situations.
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