Lagos waste manager – Messrs Visionscape Sanitation Services (VSS) – is battling to rid the streets of refuse. After the initial take-off glitches, the firm is back on the drawing board to rework its strategy, reports MUYIWA LUCAS.
CITY cleaners Visionscape Sanitation Services (VSS) has explained why the new Lagos State waste management reforms have not been “fully actualised”. Its Chief Executive Officer, John Irvine, said the long-term plans could not be swiftly implemented just as the public prefers.
VSS has gone back to the drawing board, he said, to restrategise on how best to rid the streets of Lagos of refuse.
Irvine said: “A standard engineered sanitary landfill takes 18-24 months to construct; as this goes on in the background, bin distribution to households, roadsides, markets for large volume collection are taking place simultaneously. A reformed system cannot be delivered in the short term, patience and support of citizens is required.”
Explaining why Lagos is still dirty despite the state government new waste management policy, Irvine explained there was an understanding that the PSP operators would transit from residential waste collection to commercial waste collection and work closely with the new residential waste collectors to ensure that there were no gaps in service delivery when the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) was introduced.
He described as unfortunate that there was dissension between PSP operators and the government which led to a court case instigated by the operators who withdrew from waste collection in the state leaving the yet-to-be announced Visionscape Sanitation to handle roadside waste heaps and residential waste collection simultaneously.
Irvine is however pleased that the PSPs operators, now designated as “Waste Collection Operators” (WCOs) have now reached an agreement with the state government and entered into a partnership with his firm to rid the Centre of Excellence of the unsightly heaps of waste dotting the city.
The waste situation has and will continue to improve considerably as all WCOs work closely together to achieve the primary goal of a cleaner Lagos for all, Irvine assured.
According to him, effective waste management is one of the basic services being provided by the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration.
Although the task is enormous, Irvine said the government has demonstrated the will-power to deliver a clean and healthy city.
The state, Irvine said, is managing waste generated by over 20 million residents, noting that with rapid urbanisation, waste generation in the state has been on a significant rise.
Only daily basis, 13,000 metric tonnes of waste is managed with old infrastructure. This figure indicates that 80 per cent of the waste generated in the state is derived from residential waste by individuals and households.
The VSS chief said the need for change in the previous way of managing waste brought about the CLI, explaining that in the old regime, although waste was disappearing from the roads and from houses, but it was building up elsewhere and constituting potentially catastrophic incidences.
He further explained that waste sorting, recycling and disposal, should occur at an engineered landfill, but that for decades, Lagos had operated dumpsites at Olusosun, Solous, Ikorodu and Igando; hence, the need to upgrade existing infrastructure, redesign the components and increase efficiency.
Describing the 25-year-old Olusosun dumpsite as a “ticking time bomb”, Irvine revealed that this dumpsite, which has stared at all entrants into the state in the face for several years, had long been marked for closure.”
He argued that the recent fire at Olusosun dumpsite was catalysed by methane gas combustion, not waste burning – a situation that the CLI, is designed to prevent.
“The reforms under the CLI are proactive and when fully implemented, they would prevent similar occurrences,” he assured.
On what becomes of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and PSP operators, Irvine explained that the latter have not been forced out of operation, but have been designated as WCO.
As a form of full engagement with the WCO, they have been recertified, licensed and provided with a loan facility by the government for repairs and purchase of modern equipment.
The WCOs (former PSP operators) are now focused on commercial waste, while Visionscape is the WCO in charge of residential waste. LAWMA is now saddled with the responsibility of regulating all WCOs in the state, he explained.
On the CLI, Irvine regretted that notwithstanding that no fewer than four agencies – Lagos State Refuse Disposal Board (LSRDB), 1977; Lagos State Waste Disposal Board (LSWDB), 1981; Lagos State Waste Management Authority, 1991; and Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), 2007, to manage waste in the state, infrastructural gaps persisted, especially as waste management facility commissioned in 2011 were dilapidated by 2016.
To this end, Irvine emphasised that the CLI, as a waste management reform has been designed to achieve better results.
He said the initiative was geared towards addressing, enforcing and regulating the challenges in solid waste management systems.
“The CLI aims to protect the environment, human health and the social living standards of Lagosians,” he affirmed.
Waste management experts have said that given the size of the state’s population, 2, 500 compactors would be needed to effectively manage waste in the state.
The experts said that there were fewer than 500 trucks at CLI inception. The CLI is working with over 400 contractors with the addition of 900 compactors into the system.
Irvine said that the number will continue to grow as all the contractors under the CLI upgrade their equipment and scale up operations.
He said the CLI has not only created jobs, it has boosted the economy.
With ample local content involvement, as most of the contractors under the scheme are local companies, the CLI is poised to deliver over 27,500 direct jobs and 6, 500 indirect jobs.
Besides, it is being used by the state to drive behavioural change among residents by urging them to embrace the three Rs concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle waste to conserve the environment.
Thousands of Nigerian companies and individuals talk about the health benefits of vegetables, but not many care to take the required actions to make the products accessible to especially the city dwellers.
Hence, by extending the seasoning brand, the company has not only made cooking easier for those who cannot do without ginger, onion and garlic but it is also spreading their health benefit
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