In this exclusive piece, 9news Nigeria monitored the efforts of the Lagos State government in improving the public health status through maintenance of good hygiene and environmental sanitation for clean atmosphere. Findings revealed that the mega city — in spite of environmental laws and agencies — battle filth and stench; lazy and corrupt sanitary inspectors; indiscriminate dumping of refuse; and a possible outbreak of infectious diseases.
“Cleaner Lagos Initiative is borne out of my experience as a Lagosian. I have lived in Lagos for over 50 years. When you are coming to Lagos from Ibadan, the first thing you see on the right side is the dump site. Should I sit and continue to watch, the answer is no. All I need is players and team members. The city is very dirty. It is not healthy and so our total well-being and health is defined by our health status and our productivity. Henceforth, Lagos will be one of the cleanest places in Nigeria to live in.”
The above statements were the precise words of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on March 14th, 2017. One year after, the megacity is adorned with a heap of refuse, causing infectious diseases. Now, roughly every street, junction, major roads, and even marketplaces have replaced dustbin sites in the state, with heaps and tons of filth littering every corner of the city of about 21 million residents in a 21st Century; a condition that is slowly bringing back the old Lagos. From Egbeda, Surulere, Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ikeja, IyanaIpaja, Victoria Island up to Ikorodu and Ajah, the situation remains the same.
In 1973, the United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set aside 5th June each year as World Environment Day (WED) to solve environmental problems like global warming, deforestation and food shortages amongst many others. Measured as one of the top yearly events, the day aims at raising awareness about the leading difficulty of environmental sustainability.
But regardless of efforts by both the federal government and state ministries of environment, some states in Nigeria have vowed to remain dirty. In 2015, the World Bank reported that 94% of the population in Nigeria is exposed to air pollution levels that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines (compared to 72% on average in Sub-Saharan Africa in general) and air pollution damage costs about 1% post of Gross National Income.
Let’s Take a walk Round Lagos — the Center of Excellence Filth
Repeatedly referred to as Nigeria’s industrial nerve center, Lagos state is one of the most inhabited states in Nigeria, a situation which has stretched its infrastructures such as housing, health care, roads and waste management system beyond limits. The ensuing effect is the rise of suburbs, slums and ghettos with the poorest environmental conditions within the state.
Regardless of the activities of the Visionscape Eco Park, residents still deposit waste in drainages and canals in the state which leads to obstruction of the waterway.
Malaria attacks have become the common and recurrent health complaints by inhabitants due to the mound of filth, parasites continuously feed on uncleared drains and escalating heaps of hogwash wastes dotting the megacity.
Ojuelegba hosts some of the eyesores, with mountains of refuse spilling and almost covering the entrance of a building opposite a commercial bank in the area.
A resident, Seun Adegbola, described the situation as intolerable. He lamented that he had spent a huge amount of money treating malaria and infection in the past months. According to him, the mosquitoes even defy insecticides, consequently causing her misery and mental trauma in addition. “I have spent a lot in buying Raid insecticide in the last two months. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t kill these mosquitoes anymore, because of the refuse dumped in front of my compound,” Seun said.
Ojuelegba is merely a case study of a general malaise. In the past two or three months, the disgusting sight and stink of solid wastes have returned to many parts of the city, thereby dubbing the megacity as the Centre of Filth.
Lagosians have now been strained to — on a daily basis — breathe in the disgusting odor from the heaps of garbage in marketplaces, junctions, and streets. They are now living at the mercy of policies put in place by the government whether good or bad. A Lagos resident, Olutayo Johnson, likened the unpleasant smell emanating from the tons of filth in his area in Ejigbo as part of the reasons why President of the United States of America, Donald Trump described Haiti and African countries (Nigeria inclusive) as shithole countries.
“Once you are stepping into my area in Ejigbo, even from four kilometers away, you will begin to notice that the quality of air has changed. Every resident in my area is inhaling unhygienic air because of the barrage of garbage besieged all over the place. Some of those refuse contains faeces and decomposed animals, so you can envisage what is going into our body system.
The condition is worse in Aguda, Surulere, residents try to avoid stepping on refuse, which littered either side of the road while going about their daily business. A businesswoman in the area, Theresa Edem, complained that she had started losing customers because of the rambling mess by the side of her shop. According to her, officials of the Visionscape had not visited the area in the last one month.
The story is similar at the popular Volks bus stop on Lagos-Badagry Expressway. A food vendor in the area, known as Vicky doing business amid a ‘swamp’ of sleaze, said even though she knew it was not healthy to cook and sell food in such environment, she had no choice, but to continue, as it was her only source of livelihood.
Vicky regretted that the mound of refuse kept mounting by the day, because the appropriate agencies meant to pack them, seemed to have forgotten that area of Lagos.
Pathetically, the same apathy is given the muddled ‘mountain’ at the popular Obalende roundabout with passersby covering their noses as they hurry past to board buses at the various motor parks in the area. Mushin Agege Moto Road, Ishaga, Lawanson, Ojuelegba, LASU-Isheri road, amongst others is the numerous locations with a huge refuse dump in Lagos.
In the interim, efforts of the state in ensuring appropriate management of waste has started yielding outcomes with the commencement of work at the Visionscape’s Eco Park in Epe. As one of the structures designed to package the over 13,000 tonnes of waste daily generated in Lagos, stated to be the largest in the globe.
Even as many Lagosians have complained of the disgusting odor emanating from these debris, Collins believes such stench could lead to air poison, thereby leading to respiratory problems. “It not only has the potential to damage the lungs, it could as well lead to death.
“These dirts often on their own generate methane gas which is highly inflammable and could lead to fire outbreak. So, there is much harm associated with the manner in which Lagos State government is presently managing wastes in the city.”
He called on the Ministry of Environment and other relevant agencies to as a matter of urgency to come up with a lasting solution so that Lagosians will have a sense of safety, especially with regards to their health.
Lagos Government t re-engineering waste management with Visionscape
Reacting, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, in a statement posted on his Facebook page, assured residents that the state government had commenced action to address the situation.
He said: “The greater story is that 27,500 street sweepers are now hitting the streets. Compactors are now at work all over the city as I write. They are evacuating refuse all night. Considering that refuse is generated every minute by 22 million people, it is going to be a Herculean task. But trust this government; the battle to rid our medians of filth will be executed with tenacity.
“Nine trucks just rolled out of the Agege Transfer Loading Station under the supervision of group 4 to cover the following areas: Moshalasi to Mosan Okunola, Agbotikuyo to Akowonjo, Moshalasi to Isheri, Egbeda to Akowonjo, Isheri roundabout to Ikotun, Isheri roundabout to Igandoand oke koto to Iyana Ipaja …Also, two compactors have been assigned to Iyana Ipaja bus stop and another two compactors from Igando to LASU Iba junction. Both sides of the roads will be cleared.”