Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejokun the Executive Chairman Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), in a no holds barred interview with OLANREWAJU ADESANYA recounts his experience and projections for unfettered delivery of qualitative services to Lagosians, he also harped on area of comparative advantages in the business that have economic values. Excerpt:
WHAT new innovations and ideologies are you bringing on board, that will distinct you in LAWMA given the antecedents of the body with respect to headship, which had unarguably hold the ace in the management of waste in time past?
Our plan is to take LAWMA from where it is to where everybody would say this is an authority that has direct and absolute control on how waste is managed in the state. I will break it down for you; our intention is to in the nearest future make LAWMA a regulatory body. Reason being that if we regulate the activities, the members’ public, and PSP operators will conform to dictate of operation we fashion out.
We will be giving them guidelines on how it should be done and that is how it is supposed to be, it is not like is now, presently we are the referee and also participate as a stakeholder but in the nearest future will leave game to them and give them the rules and make sure they comply with it. LAWMA will then regulate the affairs of those waste managers. Also this waste we collect are dumped in the dump sites we should not just be doing that, we have started registering those who could recycle them and turn them into raw materials for other production processes. Don’t forget those three R’s, Recycle, Reduce and Reuse.
What is the experience thus far in the helms of affairs in LAWMA, compared with your former engagement as a Deputy Clerk at the National Assembly?
There is no good institutions that won’t have its own challenges, we do have challenges and I will tell you in terms of waste collection, in the Central Business District (CBD), if you pick waste 7am by 10am if you go back there it would seem as if you never passed through the place before but we do is that we don’t wait for people to come and inform us of the need to revisit the place, we do it continuously.
Revolutionizing LAWMA is your dream, what will marks it peak?
I have told you, we are taking LAWMA to the next level, the peak is for LAWMA to be a regulatory body, a body that will be telling those doing the business what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it and when they don’t do it well, we sanction them for not doing it well that is the level we are going not for LAWMA to go on the streets picking waste but coordinate and by so doing we open up the space for new players and consequently people will employed.
Has there been any review of tariff pegs in LAWMA or are you still holding on to the old Order?
As regards tariff let me tell you that there are new areas springing up, ten years back Lekki axis wasn’t what it is today, so we take care of the new and old areas in so doing we are very mindful of the fact that our tariffs are not too exorbitant to make members of the public and tenements uncomfortable, assuming you live around Lagos Island I think tenements around that axis don’t pay more than 3,000 naira per month, I think that is very reasonable and in some areas like Lekki as I mentioned earlier most of the places have different estates. The estates determines what they would collect from their residents and then agree with LAWMA on what they will pay to LAWMA, so this is a kind of understanding along that side, that this is the size of our estate and the type of private houses and others so we agree, we are mindful of the fact that this people have to pay and we have to be very careful how we charge them.
Medical waste collection is another germane aspect what new moves are you making in that regard?
Yes! For medical waste collection we have to be very careful, you do not handle medical waste the same way you handle other solid waste, they deserve special treatment, we have special equipment for taking care of medical waste as a matter of fact not quite long we just acquired one medical waste collection equipment, the medical waste unit is under a department we call special department, created basically due to the fact that that kind of waste deserve special treatment, because it is very hazardous so it can’t be treated like we do ordinary waste, it demands special treatment.
Many felt, it is due to the need for increase in tariff to cater for cost of service delivery, which the PSP operators has been angling for that informs their low performance, what is your take on that perception?
My brother, I have been begging and pleading yes! That is the exact word, our people to pay for the collection of their waste; if the waste bills are paid promptly definitely we will give them better services. Now back to the kernel of your question we have two streams of operation, the PSP operators some are doing commercial, and some domestic. Those doing domestic collect their money directly from tenements that are from house to house, those doing commercial, LAWMA collects on their behalf.
There is an agreement between LAWMA and those PSP operators doing commercial that LAWMA would collect the monies and on collection pay them 60 percent of collections and keep 40 percent which is for the operation at our dump sites, maintenance of all our vehicles and do all other waste collections here and there that they cannot cover, so that understanding is there.
There was small misunderstanding which I believed has been cleared, it goes like this if we charge 100,000 and the commercial outfits pay up we will give you 60 percent of 100,000 but if the outfit paid 80,000 instead of the amount charged you cannot insist that we pay you 60 percent of 100,000. We would rather pay you 60 percent of 80,000 when balance is paid we will also give you 60 percent of that and keep 40 percent, just as permissible in law you cannot give what you don’t have. So it is what is in our hands that we would share at the agreed percentage that is what we have been doing.
Olushosun dump site clearly portends a dangerous health hazard in the nearest future if nothing drastic is done to address the issue at stake, any plan in this direction?
Let me tell you that every dump sites has a live span, Olushosun is earmarked to be closed by 2017, also most of these dump sites were situated at the outskirts of settlements before, but because the state is developing, people have built to where the dump sites are, so it is our job to start looking for areas where we can relocate. If we get it right, which I believed by the grace of God we would, recycling will take care of some of these things you are apprehensive about, because we will reduce the amount of waste that eventually get to the dump sites. Most especially when waste like used tyres are picked up by those who will use them as raw materials for other products. Such effort will reduce the amount of waste and free up landed space needed for other purpose.
LAWMA has also been able to characterize waste, these are verifiable, the waste are classified, the Organic takes 43 percent, followed by plastics with 23 percent,paper 13 percent, textile 12 percent, inorganic 2 percent, Beverages containers, glass, metal, takes 1 percent each, while others takes the remaining 4percent.