After much efforts of the Lagos State government over the years to achieve a cleaner and tidier Lagos, the streets of Lagos seem not to feel the impact as road medians and junctions all over the state have unfortunately attained the status of dump sites.
It appears as if the government had made a declaration that every road median and junctions are now the legally recognized dumpsites as people throw their waste and refuse along the roads without care or worries of being arrested.
From reports gathered last week, the Lagos State government had arrested hundreds of cart pushers, who were accused of sabotaging the ‘Clean Lagos Initiative’ (CLI).
This is done with a threat to arrest more of them while also warning residents to avoid patronising the cart pushers, who not only dump refuse at illegal places but also have ulterior motives. Nevertheless, the activities of residents should not be overlooked. However, the many problems of the CLI seems to be far from being resolved as reports indicate that the officials of the former waste management companies are the ones sabotaging the activities of Visionscape in implementing the CLI project.
Speaking with journalists last week, a senior official of Visionscape, said it was unfortunate that those who felt that the new arrangement would affect them adversely were working hard to sabotage the CLI at all cost by deliberately dumping large waste in public places.
Furthermore, in a recent video that went viral on social media, Mr. Joseph Olawale, Visionscape’s Area Manager for Lagos Island West was seen lamenting the sabotage of the CLI, where he stated that sometimes, heaps of refuse appear overnight in places already cleared by environmental officials.
This, he believed, was a means of frustrating the efforts of Visionscape officials. In the same video, a man in a LAWMA uniform was seen fleeing from arrest after illegally dumping waste on the same spot. In a reaction to these complaints, security operatives have arrested more than five officials of Private Sector Participants (PSP) with the latest arrest being that of four officials of Ayomide Olayinka Ventures, who were caught dumping refuse with their compactor on the street along the Central Business District (CBD) of Lagos Island in the middle of the night.
In a statement, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, said that the arrest confirmed the suspicion of the government that stakeholders were sabotaging the new environmental waste management policy – the CLI.
According to him: “The arrest of the PSP operator is a clear example of the deliberate efforts to sabotage what the state government is doing.
The PSP are not being driven out of their businesses with the reform as they are made to believe. Under CLI, the government has made provision for the PSP operators to handle collection of commercial waste and there are over 15,000 companies in Lagos that can serve the over 200 PSP operators in the state.
So far, the CLI has been able to get over 50,000 new employees out of the labour market. The government has also stressed itself by getting N2.5billion loan to enable the PSP operators buy equipment to be more competitive.
These are things they can key into than blackmailing the government”. Some residents of the state, however, spoke out on the twist in the course of events. While some agreed with the reasons supplied by the CLI officials, others did not believe this, stating that Visionscape was only making an excuse for her many failures. Mr. Kunle Adesanya, a pharmacist, commended the state government for its efforts towards making Lagos a cleaner place and the recent arrest of alleged saboteurs of that vision.
He said that this showed the concern of the government towards checking epidemic in the state. However, he believed that more should be done to make Lagos cleaner. “Whosoever that needs to be arrested should be arrested and any company that needs to be kicked out of business should be kicked out because this is tied to our health.
These people need to understand that a cleaner environment translates to a healthier environment and a healthier people in return but when the whole place is messed up, there would be enough room for germs to spread and people would just be dying like chicken” Also speaking on the issue, Mr. Akin Adetokunbo, the Principal of a secondary school, confirmed the allegations against the PSP operators in the state. He said that he had observed that PSP compactors now go about deliberately dropping refuse as they move. This, he said, was not happening before.
“The PSP operators of those days used to have the compactors compress the dirt as they pick it and you hardly see any of what they have packed falling off but now, they have stopped compressing the dirt.
Once, they pick it, they leave it to trail after them. I know that they are doing this on purpose” He added that he had also observed that PSP trucks that were fully loaded with refuse were now being parked along the roads after engine failure and left for days without having the contents evacuated as soon as possible.
This, he believed, is an effort to sabotage the CLI but which is to the detriment of all Lagos residents including those that are saboteurs. In the latter category is Mrs. Arike Adebamgbe, a seamstress, who said that the claims of Visionscape officials was just a myth and very untrue. She believed that Visionscape is not capable of handling the state’s waste management policies and thus has resorted to pointing accusing fingers to former waste management companies. “They are only saying this to make us believe that the PSP operators are evil.
I am a Nigerian and I know what can happen. How sure are we that Visionscape operators are not the ones dispatching people to disguise as PSP operators and dump refuse on Lagos roads, so that they can accuse the PSP?” she retorted.
She continued:“And they know we would believe this because looking at the business climate in Nigeria, it is not favourable. People are just managing. So, now that the PSP has been churned out of waste management business and someone comes to tell us that they are unleashing frustration by dropping refuse anywhere it is easy to believe that”
However, the state government has warned all saboteurs and residents, who dump refuse at illegal places to desist from such acts. Bamigbetan revealed that any PSP operator caught would be dealt with using the full weight of the law while urging residents to exercise more patience as the current challenge with waste disposal would soon be over.
Also, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, said that Lagos residents who are in the habit of indiscriminately disposing waste in public places should desist from such acts and rather join hands with the state government to ensure the success of the CLI.
He averred that it has now become expedient to impress it on residents who are always dumping waste on roads and public places to desist from doing so in order to achieve a cleaner and healthier environment. Meanwhile, concerned stakeholders of Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria (AWMN) yesterday condemned a statement credited to an aggrieved group within the association faulting resolve to work with the Lagos state government and an environmental utility group, Visionscape Sanitation Solutions to ensure cleaner and healthier environment.
The aggrieved group, in a statement by its Chairman, Oladipo Egbeyemi had distanced itself from the agreement to work with the state government to rid the state of filth adorning major streets and highways, describing the resolution as misleading and untrue. But responding, the concerned stakeholders, in a statement signed on their behalf by Kasumu Afis Olasehinde of Gafista Concepts Limited, said the statement by the aggrieved stakeholders was not only in bad taste but had shown their being careless about the interest of Lagosians.
The stakeholders, comprising 48 Private Sector Participant (PSP) operators in waste management, said their resolve to work with the state government to ensure the success of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) was borne out of a genuine desire to protect the environment and prevent outbreak of any epidemic in the state considering the resurgence of refuse in public places.
The statement reads: “This kind gesture was warmly received and accepted by the government but to the surprise of many, a group believed to be aggrieved from AWMN, has come out to disown us for offering a helping hand, you must ask why? Are they angry with progress? Are they people-oriented at all? Is this challenge a thing of pride and ego to them or service to the people?
“We have been rendering unequalled outstanding waste management service to Lagosians for decades and it is the state of things that necessitated our group’s initiative to offer help and also collaborate with Visionscape.
The Visionscape group sees us as partners who will learn a lot from each other and they are willing to collaborate with us to make Lagos clean.”
•Additional report by Elizabeth Ogunbamowo
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