Mounting refuse heaps drag back march to greater Lagos

It is 48 hours shy of a month since Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was sworn-in into office. In the last one month, the governor has been very visible, though without a cabinet yet, in stamping his imprimatur on governance in the state.He has in the last four weeks tried to pursue vigorously his THEME – the five pillars of development agenda for a greater Lagos, which are Traffic management and transportation, Health and environment, Education and technology, Making Lagos a 21st century economy and Entertainment and tourism.

Of the five pillars, it is obvious the first two are his area of focus. And this was backed within his first few hours in office by an executive order on traffic management, road works and waste disposal.

One month after, only the order on traffic management is hitting the right chords, the other two are largely an exercise of motion without movement. While many of the inner-city and major roads are begging for urgent rehabilitation, all parts of the city are lined with nauseating heaps of refuse.

In 2018, the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria, popularly known as Public Private Participation (PPP), hinted that Lagos had become one of the dirtiest cities in the world. Vice-Chairman of the body, Mr. David Oriyomi, who made the assertion, said the city had become dirty due to deliberate attempts to relieve waste managers of their job and blaming the former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, whose Cleaner Lagos Initiative, otherwise known as Visionscape, led to improper waste management.

Shortly after the claim, the Lagos State House of Assembly charged local government executives to call on the PSP operators in their areas to resume collection of refuse. It is eight months since PSP took over the exercise, yet the state is still wallowing in filthiness.

A drive or walk around the state shows heaps of waste lining the roadsides. Almost every space in street corners, junction and markets have been overwhelmed with refuse heaps. The dirt are not only an eyesore, they have also started competing with motorists for rights of way, with piles of refuse making human and vehicular movement laborious.

On a daily basis, Lagosians are now forced to inhale the stench from the piles of debris, not minding the risk of an epidemic outbreak. From NNPC junction, Ejigbo to Ikotun, Agege, Iyana-Ipaja, Mile 2, Mushin, Mile 12, Ojota and Orile, Sanwo-Olu’s executive order on waste disposal is becoming a joke.

In fact, The Guardian sighted a man who was opening urinating on a waste heap at Oshodi beside the monstrous legacy project of the last administration. A trader, who simply identified herself as Mrs. Rasaq, blamed the development on the haphazard evacuation of waste from the market. She also blamed her fellow traders for dumping their waste on the road and not the large bin provided by the state waste management agency.

A vendor at Mile 2 said: “The government is to blame for the behaviour of residents because there is no option provided to them on refuse disposal. The cart-pushers who help with this refuse do not work in this area anymore because of constant arrest by officials so residents resort to dumping their waste at the junctions.