Cleaner Lagos-Has the vision escaped? Part 1

April 22, 2018

After spending a week scouting five key locations in Yaba, Iyana-Ipaja, Ikotun, Igando, and Egbeda areas of Lagos overridden by waste, Joseph Olaoluwa tells the tale of the growing piles that has continued to remain on the streets of Lagos despite Government efforts.

Until recently, piles of refuse were not too obvious on Lagos streets. Officials of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority did their best to collect refuse across the state but there was a need to do more to keep the city clean.
The average commuter who has to get to work early each morning or return late every evening now has a problem to deal with in many parts of the state. If it is not the traffic and road rage that stems from a road duel in which anyone can win or lose, it is the stench that oozes from the numerous bus stops you pass by. In the rain or heat, your discomfort becomes indeed real.

It is worse on a Monday morning when you are in a supposedly ‘good vibe’ and your smile creases to a frown because another passenger has to alight close to an abandoned refuse dump in the middle or by the side of the road, at the very bus stop of their choice.
For a densely populated city like Lagos, sighting public refuse dumps is an eyesore. From the many effects that these large heaps of refuse dumps can result in, the worst is an epidemic. An environmental specialist says we have not gotten there yet, but others might disagree.
Bose Ogundipe is the most concerned and affected person of the waste menace that has been slowly ravaging Lagos and threatening to take it over.  Since she does not have a shop and no roof over her head; she is your regular recharge card seller who has no choice than to conduct her business next to the huge pile of rubbish that is close by a little overhead bridge at Iyana-Ipaja.

Bose fears are heightened by the future implication of waste, and the direct result of maggots breeding on the refuse piles. She spoke like one with experience expecting the micro-organisms to come soon enough, just to prove to our correspondent that the sighting and inhalation of waste was not just an eyesore-  but if not properly taken care of will result in bouts of illness for her and all the others around her, hustling for daily bread.
Judging from the statistics of waste in Lagos State which is almost inexistent and out-dated, there has been no effort by the Government to produce a comprehensive data of waste till date. Recent investigations reveal that Waste collection rose from 369,000 metric tonnes in 1980 to 1, 771,259.01 metric tonnes in 2014 after which there was no data on the quantity of waste produced in the metropolitan state. See ( on waste statistics in Lagos State from 1980 till date).

Globally, cities across the world produce 1.3 billion tonnes of waste annually, on the other hand, Nigeria generates more than 32 million tonnes of solid waste annually and according to the Managing Director of Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), Engr. Abdul Wahab Ogunbiyi, the rate of waste generated by residents has hit 13,000 metric tonnes on a daily basis and therefore becomes imperative for the formulation of a holistic approach to tackle the accompanying challenges. However, Mukaila Sanusi, Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, Alausa, Ikeja begs to differ. In the little excerpt attributed to him, we discover that the waste generated in Lagos is more than 13,000 metric tonnes as appropriate waste data is not fully provided to account for the exact measure of waste generated in Lagos.
“If per capita waste generation rate at 1.2 kg per person per day is anything to go by, waste generated in Lagos far outweighs the official figure of 13,000 tons per day. Also, the fact that the per capita waste generation has been projected to rise to 1.42 kg in the next fifteen years presents a serious cause for concern,” Sanusi was quoted saying.
It is in the view of reforming the waste sector that the State Government last year, proactively signed a $135 million (N85 billion) agreement with a foreign firm as part of its new waste management policy, a partnership under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative expected to last for four years.
Ambode said: “We are also embarking on massive reform in the waste and sanitation management system. I don’t like the way the city is and the Private Sector Participants (PSP) collectors are not having enough capacity to do it but again should I tax people to death, the answer is no.

“I do not want to tax people, and so we need this partnership with the private sector so that it can invest in the sanitation management of the city and in no time, maybe by July, the city will change forever.” Hence the partnership with Visionscape Sanitary Solutions (VSS), a subsidiary of the Visionscape Group was birthed.

Visionscape trucks are fully equipped and embedded with cutting-edge features, which includes a Global Positioning System (GPS), radio-frequency identification (RFID), and automotive Controller Area Network (CAN bus) system. These innovative features are designed to meet the operational needs facing waste management across the state. Using these methods, Visionscape will be able to monitor and track the state’s waste collection processes thoroughly, ensuring the trucks are deployed for effective waste collection within Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Despite the $50 million consignment given to Visionscape, the reduction of LAWMA to a regulatory body, and full autonomy given to Visionscape to map the waste affected areas to the state and rid Lagos of waste, their only recent achievement has been clearing over 80,000 tonnes of waste in more than 1000 illegal dump sites across the state within a period of six months. This slow pace, compared to the 23 million people residing in Lagos has raised the doubt whether Visionscape Solutions will be able to combat the overwhelming piles of waste that has long taken over the streets of Lagos. Bearing in mind that the state produces more than 13,000 metric tonnes of waste per day.
Nevertheless, Visionscape has continued to spend the last six months surveying the whole of Lagos state whilst collating data of the population density in regards to various communities and households across to state to know the amount of waste generated per location. This new development is not bad since there is no available data on waste but this process of gathering data would continue for 18 months, and maybe even more as the Visionscape is more committed to providing statistics than solving the real problem of the growing piles.
According to CEO, Visionscape, John Irvine said:
“To enable the contract to start, which is in different stages, it often takes 18 months gestation period. We spent the first 18 months on mobilisation, of different segments of the contract. The first segment was initial mobilisation, which entails the surveying; the second stage is stabilisation, while the third is augmentation. And each of the segments takes between three and four months before full service is realised.”

During a recent visit to Iyana-Ipaja, a popular bus stop located in the suburbs of Lagos, overridden by dirt, Bose complained that she could not have her meals close to the refuse dump site where her only source of livelihood was located, since she has to inhale the stench while struggling to keep her business afloat.  But Bose wasn’t alone, she had a man and a nursing mother about her who held a young child, surrounded by heaps on the left and on the right.
Our correspondent who went on a tour of five locations from February 6th through February 13th, 2018, listened to what various residents had to say.

Click the link to see a map of the affected areas 

Article by Joseph Olaoluwa.(Part 1)

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