It has become a major challenge managing waste disposal in Lagos, despite several attempts by successive governments and private organisations to curb the devastating menace. That is why it is a common sight all over Lagos today to see heaps of festering waste dumped in almost every nook and cranny.
Residential apartments, markets, waterways, highways, streets and undeveloped plots of land have been turned to waste dumps for many.
Waste disposal has remained a challenge over the years, with indiscriminate dumping of refuse in available spaces, especially markets, drainages and open space in residential areas. However, there is a legal tussle between the private waste evacuators and government-operated waste evacuators over rights to operate side by side. But most of the people in the state believe that the private operators have been more efficient in terms of prompt evacuation of the wastes than those engaged by government.
An official of the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), who pleaded anonymity, said: “There is no proper waste management structure in Lagos. What we do is transportation, waste disposal, and not waste management. That means collecting from one point and discharging it at another point.
“We have dumpsites where the wastes are taken. Thereafter, we sort them out and crush the ones that could be crushed. We have waste collectors that are shared into zones, and they go to individual houses, shops and others to collect waste and take them to dumpsites. But the challenge we have is shortage of trucks, and we cannot help the situation.”
An affected resident of Oshodi, Lagos, Mr. Jude Ezekiel, said it was the responsibility of every responsive government to eradicate indiscriminate refuse from the state, and that was the reason the previous administration of Akinwummi Ambode took necessary steps to carry the people along in order to achieve the ultimate goal of a cleaner, healthier and better Lagos by introducing Vision Scape, a waste management agency.
“The past administration made a huge effort to eradicate indiscriminate waste disposals in the state by introducing various waste management agencies. Vision Scape did a lot, but they were not given a long time to continue. That shows that they are concerned about the health safety of the people.”
Despite all efforts by the government to manage poor waste disposal in the state, the private waste collectors, popularly called Private Sectors Participants (PSP) on waste collection, have come under strong condemnation in some part of Lagos State, as they have been accused of inefficiency and rip-off.
Residents of areas like Egbeda, Abule-Egba, Ekoro, Ile-Epo/Oja, Iyana-Ipaja, Pleasure, Abule Taylor, Ahmadiyya, Ijaiye and Dopemu, among others within the Lagos metropolis, are suffering in silence, due to the unbearable condition of these areas.
Against the normal practice of monthly sanitations and evacuation of refuse, which is aimed at achieving an efficient waste management in the state, it seems like adequate measures are not taken to completely stop the indiscriminate dumping of refuse. This, on many occasions, has led to disagreements between the operators and residents, based on the usual practice of ensuring that residents pay for the period in question.
Residents have now been forced to seek alternative means of disposing their wastes, either by engaging the services of truck pushers at an extra cost or by dumping them indiscriminately on the express road or the median.
Another affected resident, Segun Olajide, who lives in beside the Airport Road on Ajao Estate, claimed that, from his observation, some of the PSP operators were operating with only one truck for about five communities. He noted that immediately the truck developed any fault, the areas would have to suffer till the truck was put in good shape again.
“I observed that it is only one truck that comes to carry refuse in the whole Airport road, Isolo, and Festac. This means we have to wait until after one month before the truck comes. We have complained to the waste management agency, but all to no avail. Sometimes they will refuse to come with the excuse that their truck is faulty,” he lamented.
In his views, Mr. Uzoma Nwoke, a lecturer at the Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, noted: “There should be a sensitisation exercise by the Ministry of Environment, where officials would come out en masse to create awareness on the health hazard caused by the mismanagement of waste, especially in residential areas. The campaign should be aimed at educating residents on the need to properly dispose of their waste, as failure to do so can lead to water and air borne diseases. We have to help ourselves first by maintaining a hygienic environment before the Ministry of Health or the government can help us.”
An environmentalist, Mr Ifeanyi Ochonogor, founder of E-terra Recycling Agency, Yaba, Lagos, also spoke on the need for government to engage more on recycling refuse. His words: “The recurring threats to proper waste management in Lagos is the lack of adequate facilities. The best recommended strategy is for government to invest more on recycling of refuse, electronics and plastic materials. However, one of the greatest barriers to recycling is the manufacturing industry. There are only few recycling industries in Lagos, and they are mostly owned by a private organisation.
“In a large city like Lagos, especially in the rural areas, recycling is almost unattainable, as the recycling points and collectors are mostly in the urban areas, and virtually unknown to the people living in these rural communities. Material goods like plastics are sold and used within these rural areas, and most times they end in the gutters or burnt, causing further environmental and health hazards.”
The reporter gathered that the on-going legal tussle between the private waste evacuators and government-operated waste evacuators over rights to operate side by side is currently at the Court of Appeal. Many Lagos residents believe, however, that
the private operators have been more efficient in terms of prompt evacuation of refuse than those engaged by the government.
“It doesn’t matter who evacuates refuse between government agents and private operators. What is important is that refuse should be taken off Lagos roads and streets, as the current situation is far from acceptable,”