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City of garbage

Posted by By TESSY OKOYE on 2007/02/21 | Views: 529 |

City of garbage


The state of the environment, some say, is the reflection of the quality of life of the people. The ability to manage waste without causing negative impact on the populace can be said to be one of the hallmarks of a developed country.

...Lagos residents lament inefficiency of waste managers

The state of the environment, some say, is the reflection of the quality of life of the people. The ability to manage waste without causing negative impact on the populace can be said to be one of the hallmarks of a developed country.

Until 1999, waste management in Lagos State was the sole responsibility of local governments. This was, however, taken over by the state government, which introduced private sector participation (PSP). The initiative was received with mixed feelings. Initially, Lagosians commended the performance of the operators.

Wastes are gradually finding their way back to where they should not be. Now, bus stops, markets, drainages, express-way, kerbs, and residential areas have become garbage dumps.

Rickety broken down PSP trucks meant for daily evacuation of refuse now dot major roads in Lagos. The trucks, barely make the journey to their destinations as they always break down, owing to poor maintenance.

If a broken down truck laden with garbage is not quickly evacuated, residents of such area are forced to live with puke-inducing stench from the decaying waste.

Alhaji Suleman Animasahun, a landlord in Oyetayo Street, Oshodi, said: " I can not say they are not trying, but their operation is now compared with when they started. If they managed to come to your area to pack overflowing waste, they usually create more waste as their over filled trucks end up littering the whole area. The type of trucks they also use are not fit for the road, and when they break down at a place, itís a pity for people in such an area."

Mr. Sunday Ugwu, a civil servant, who described the services of PSP operators as unimpressive, noted that although they pay the bills, their wastes are not evacuated.
"When they manage to come and fill their dilapidated trucks beyond its capacity, half of the refuse will end up in the street as they pass," Mr. Ugwu added.

At Yaba market, most traders blamed the PSP operators for the incessant closure of the market. According to them, apart from Thursday officially set aside for cleaning the market, traders clean their trading space after daily transactions.

"The market was better off when we had to patronize cart pushers. Everyday, the market union monitors the cleaning and ensures that all waste generated are moved to a designated place for removal. However, because these people donít come, to evacuate the waste, we are being blamed for the untidy nature of the place", lamented one of the traders, who claimed that his stall had repeatedly come under the hammer of the Ministry of the Environment.

However, Mr. Fola Adeyemi, director of public affairs, Ministry of Environment came to the defence of the PSP operators.

"Their services should be applauded rather than criticized", he enthused, adding: "Think of a scenario where Lagos State is overtaken by refuse. That would be the situation if garbage were left unattended to. If the PSP operators went on strike for one day, Lagos would experience an outbreak of epidemic. This is because the amount of refuse generated by Lagos alone is equivalent to that of three states. No system can claim perfection, but in term of performance, PSP scores between 65-70 percent", he reiterated.
Although Mr. Adeyemi agreed that there is a problem with monitoring, he was quick to inform Daily Sun that it would soon be a thing of the past.

"The operators would be seriously monitored. The mentality of an average Nigerian entrepreneur is that they donít want to re-invest. This has led to the degeneration of the trucks, as their owners are nonchalant about their state. We have blacklisted some of them and already have their contracts terminated. There are also plans to empower the diligent ones for optimum productivity", Mr Adeyemi promised.

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