- Heaps of refuse back on Lagos streets
By KATE HALIM AND VERA WISDOM BASSEY
Mosquito infestation is not new or strange to Lagosians, particularly those living in slums and upland of the coastal city, notorious for uncleared drainages and filthy environment. But, for residents of some parts of Lagos, the sufferings of Egyptians of the Biblical days under the ninth plague unleashed by the heavens to free the children of Israel were a mere child’s play compared to what they currently go through in the face of invasion by the deadly tiny, winged insects.
Malarial attacks have become the common and frequent health complaints by residents, no thanks to ever fresh supply of the plasmodium-vectors bred continuously from uncleared drains and mounting heaps of rotten wastes dotting the landscape everywhere.
Ijesha road, Ijeshatedo, hosts some of the eyesores, with heaps of refuse spilling and almost covering the entrance of a building opposite Keystone Bank in the area.
A resident, Chinelo Aniemeka, described the situation as unbearable. She lamented that she had spent huge amount of money on anti-malaria drugs to treat infection in the past weeks.
According to her, the mosquitoes even defy insecticides, thus causing her despair and psychological trauma in addition. “I know how much I have spent buying Baygon insecticide for two months. The funny thing is that it doesn’t kill these mosquitoes anymore, because of the refuse dumped in front of my compound,” Aniemeka said.
Ijeshatedo is merely a case study of a general malaise. In the past two or three months, the offensive sight and stench of solid wastes have returned to many parts of the metropolis threatening its aesthetics beauty and proud claim of being the nation’s Centre of Excellence.
The situation is so bad that on Ogunmuyiwa Street in Aguda, Surulere, residents try to avoid stepping on refuse, which littered either side of the road while going about their daily business. A fashion designer in the area, Beatrice Edem, complained that she had started losing customers because of the sprawling mess by the side of her shop.
According to her, officials of the Lagos State Wastes Management Authority, LAWMA, had not visited the area in the last one month. “The whole place is messed up, because it is no longer refuse only that repulses residents, but refuse mixed with rain. Some of my customers now dread coming to my shop because of the foul smell from the filthy environment,” Edem said.
The story is similar at the popular Volks bus stop on Lagos-Badagry Expressway. A food vendor in the area popularly known as Lizzy doing business amid a ‘swamp’ of sleaze, said even though she knew it was not hygienic to cook and sell food in such environment, she had no choice, but to continue, as it was her only source of livelihood.
Lizzy regretted that the refuse heaps kept mounting by the day, because the relevant agencies meant to pack them, seemed to have forgotten that area of Lagos.
Embarrassingly, the same indifference is given the messy ‘mountain’ at the popular Obalende roundabout with commuters covering their noses as they rush past to board buses at the various motorparks in the area.
At Oworonshoki rail, the area has almost been submerged by dirt, raising fears of likely epidemic. Mr. Kayode Bello, a tricycle operator in an interview with Saturday Sun, appealed to the authorities to come to their aid before things got out of hand. “It is so disturbing that everywhere is filled with refuse. We are helpless. I am appealing to the government to do the needful before refuse heaps suffocate us,’” he said.
Mrs. Philomena Enemuo, a grocer on Ronke Street, Ijeshatedo and another resident, Mr. Olumorin Abiodun, lamented that the mere sight of the refuse heaps and the foul smell pervading the environment belie the state government’s promise of a cleaner, beautiful Lagos to the citizens.
Their views are echoed by Abiodun, a fabric seller at Iyana Iba bus stop, who said: “Aside the offensive smell that greets anyone who approaches my area, it is not good that a mega city would still be having such problems in these days and age.’’
Driving home from work along Ikeja bus stop these days has become an unpleasant experience for Mr. Francis Ikechi. He told Saturday Sun that he almost always get choked from the stench of the refuse dumps on the route. “I don’t know how people living around the refuse heaps breathe and live,” Ikechi said. The story is the same at the popular Ipodo bus stop around ikeja under bridge on Awolowo way in the state’s capital city, Ikeja. A disgusting heap of refuse has reduced the two-lane busy road to a lane.
However, some residents have resorted to burning their refuse and getting rid of their wastes by themselves, after waiting in vain for the disposing agencies to evacuate the refuse that may have started swarming with maggots.
Fear of epidemic outbreak
A medical practitioner, Dr. Gabriel Omonaiye, expressed fears that should the situation continue, it could lead to cholera outbreak. He thus urged immediate official response to save the residents from disease.”
Another doctor who runs a hospital at Ijesha road, Ikedi Peters, warned of other health and environmental hazards. “The offensive odour the refuse gives off chokes the lungs, thereby affecting one’s breathing. If one cannot breathe very well, it can lead to death,” he said.
Waste Management Policy
Earlier this year, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed a “Bill to Provide for the Management, Protection and Sustainable Development of the Environment in Lagos State and for other connected purposes.
The objective of the bill was to ensure a cleaner environment within the state.
Despite the Sanitation Law and the existence of LAWMA, among other efforts put in place by Governor Akinwumi Ambode, such as the concession of the waste management system to private holders, it is curious that the city reels under piles of filth, say observers.
However, the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria (AWAM) had some time ago, warned that the new environmental sanitation initiative unveiled late last year by the government would only lead to crisis in the sector, in the attempt to replace the monthly sanitation exercise.
But, Babatunde Adejare, the Commissioner for the Environment, promised that the era of wastes littering Lagos streets would soon be over, with the conclusion of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal with a Europe- based waste management firm. The arrangement, he said, would tackle waste management in the state, as well as tap into the wealth opportunities inherent in waste management.
“Waste management is now big business. We are concentrating on commercial waste management and collection which is more lucrative. The new contractor, a renowned international firm, will focus on domestic waste management, and will invest about N85 billion over the next five years,” the commissioner said.
Also, Head of Public Affairs, LAWMA, Mr. Lanre Bajulaiye, assured that, the authority was doing its best to ensure that all the streets and highways in Lagos were cleared of wastes soon.