By OKOSUN DENNIS
Two years after Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration came to power, Lagos State is enmeshed in garbage kingdom as huge heaps of refuse have engulfed the metropolis.
Unfortunately, with its present status as a mega city and with physical and business developments springing up in all the nooks and crannies of the city; tremendously increasing per capital income of workers following increased influx of investors, Lagos cannot afford to swim in the gutters of filth and pungent odours.
With such refuse everywhere, there is no doubt that rodents, cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies find veritable places to inhabit.
Worst still, the outbreak of Lassa fever in Lagos state leading to some patients being quarantined at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), is a wake up call that there might be an epidemic of exponential proportion if urgent steps are not taken by the health ministry and other concerned departments to arrest the heaps of of refuse in the state.
National Daily’s visit to Obalende, Jakande, Osapa London, Anthony Village, Oshodi, Kakawa in Broad Street, Apapa and Ikeja revealed that the city is wallowing in filth, dirt’s and garbages.
The degree of refuse dumps and the stench are also unimaginable.
Investigation revealed that the resurgence of refuse on Lagos streets have so much to do with he lingering faceoff between the Lagos State Government, (LASG), and Private Sector Participation, (PSP), refuse collectors over introduction of the “Cleaner Lagos Initiative”, (CLI), a new waste disposal policy.
Although the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde said recently that everything was being done to address the problem; promising that indiscriminate dumping of refuse will be a thing of the past, nothing seems to have changed over a month he made such declaration.
Unfortunately, the lingering court case between the state government and the waste collectors under the aegis of the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria, (AWMN), has not made matters better.
Of the over one tonne of refuse generated daily in Lagos, only about 40% is said to be genuinely collected by PSP operators while the rest is thrown into drainages, surrounding bushes and unauthorised places by residents.
The problem of waste management is worsened following lack of or irregular payment by residents to PSP collectors. This has exacerbated the flooding of streets with refuse indiscriminately dumped at the nooks and crannies of the streets.
However, with the Environment Bill passed into law in 2016 by the state government and other private sector initiatives with a view to ensuring that waste are evacuated promptly, would go a long way in guaranteeing a cleaner Lagos with the hope that and residents would compile strictly.
National Daily gathered that the Lagos State government had engaged Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited, to take over waste management in the state under a Public Private Partnership (PPP), arrangement.
It was learnt that the foreign firm is expected to apply advanced technology in waste management in the state.
Unfortunately, the involvement of a foreign company has galvanised into plethora of arguments and disagreements as some PSP waste managers see them as potential threats to their business which might displace a lot of them from businesses.
As these levels of disagreements lingers coupled with attempts by relevant authorities to resolve the conundrum, heaps of garbages are piling up in different parts of Lagos, constituting great health risk especially with the outbreak of Lassa Fever in the state which has not be effectively dealt with.
National Daily survey further revealed that during last month’s flood in Lagos, greater percentage of what led to the flooded streets were due to bad waste disposal habit. Some resident deliberately dump wastes into the drainages, canals, which causes blockages.
One other obvious problem in the waste management or what some PSP are facing, it was gathered is failure of residents to package their waste before dumping them at various collections points.
Beyond that, it was also discovered that each time it rained, some of these unpackaged waste are pushed into the drainage hence the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Babatunde Adejare admonished residents to neatly package their waste and keep them in authorised places to be picked up by LAWMA workers.
The Director of Operations, Rothauge Healthcare Limited, Dr Emegha Emohare, told National Daily that the reemergence of waste on the streets pose huge health concern to residents noting that with outbreak of Lassa Fever calls for urgent need to clear the streets of refuse where rodents cohabit.
He explained that “Lagos state is coming up with a new policy on refuse control “Clean Lagos Initiatives” and I am optimistic that this arrangement will capture the failure of what used to be practised.
“I believe they are aware of the refuse and would urge them to react to it the way they reacted when we had Ebola. I implore them to give it more momentum especially with the outbreak of Lassa Fever to avoid more people coming down with the illness.
“The residents should ensure they embark on community cleaning to prevent health hazards,” Dr Emohare reiterated.
Also reacting to the refuse which littered streets, LAWMA Ambassador Anuoluwapo enjoins LAWMA officers to be dutiful noting that everything is not about money.
He observed that in her area where she lives, explained that LAWMA usually pick up the garbage every Tuesday or Friday, “They did that religiously for two years but in May/June 2017, they have slacked resulting to huge heaps of refuse.
Anuoluwapo also berated residents who, due to laziness or otherwise are not doing enough to free their environment of refuse. “Some people are just so lazy and dirty! To clean up their surroundings look strenuous work to them.
“Some people are just dirty at home, dirty at work, dirty any day any time. Even a pig is neater than some of them! And we are talking about outbreak of #LassaFever!’
She called on the government to consistently play its role for a more cleaner environment.