LAGOS, LAWMA AND THE BATTLE AGAINST FILTH

By Bolaji Israel

The city of Lagos, with its ever-increasing population and bustling economic activities, faces significant environmental challenges. With the ever-growing influx of people from all over the country into Lagos daily in search for greener pasture, coupled with the volume of businesses, manufacturing, trading activities and human movements around the state, it is understandable that its environmental challenges would be humongous and multidimensional.

Dirty markets, littered streets, blocked drainages due to indiscriminate waste disposal and plastic wastes and homeless miscreants squatting all around the state bridges, would readily have been the disgusting optics in the absence of proactive management and control.

However, the state government, particularly the current administration, is sparing no efforts in its renewed bid to safeguard the environment and ensure a clean and healthy city for residents to live and thrive.

Lagos, which has a population of over 20 million is projected to hit 32.6 million by 2050, and over 80 million by 2100, according to Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto.

As the state evolves into a full-scale modern city befitting of its status, the government cannot afford to do less or rest on its oars. In fact, all residents and stakeholders must join hands with in the fight to maintain a conducive environment critical for sustainable living.

Just recently, in a bold move to halt further environmental violation in the area, the Lagos State Government dislodged scores of illegal squatters and miscreants residing under Ijora Bridge.

The commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab had reiterated that the exercise was aimed at addressing issues of gross environmental abuse, perpetrated by the illegal squatters, adding that the government would leave no stone unturned in restoring sanity to the environment across the metropolis.

At the core of the campaign for a clean and healthy environment is Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, the government agency which plays a crucial role in both the proactive and daily management of environmental issues in the state, as well as enforcements against recalcitrant violators through its enforcement team.

Earlier in January, residents woke up to the cheering news of a total ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam packs and other single use plastics by the government.

The decision had followed the menace which the single use plastics, especially the non-biodegradable styrofoam was causing on the environment, as most drainage channels in the state are daily clogged, with a larger chunk of littering across major roads and markets attributed to same Styrofoam, despite the regular cleaning and evacuation of the drains with humongous resources.

Furthermore, Oke-Afa, Isolo and Katangua Markets, in the Abule Egba area, were also sealed in January for violating waste disposal regulations and for sundry unhygienic practices, constituting grave environmental infractions.

Wahab had charged that: “The government has not jettisoned its zero tolerance for waste and the only way for markets and traders, is to engage in decent and civilised waste disposal practices as outlined by the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) as any market or facility that runs foul will face sanctions”.

Last November, the government reopened the Mushin main market, Ojuwoye, Awolowo, Irepodun and Daleko markets in the densely populated Mushin area of the state, after the traders made amends to correct widespread environmental infractions, including indiscriminate waste dumping.

Mile 12 international, Owode Onirin and Oyingbo markets were all also not spared last October as they were all sealed but reopened only after complying with environmental standards as stipulated by the government.  

Similarly, an Environmental Special Offences Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, last November handed down fines and community service penalties, to over 100 environmental offenders, found guilty of indiscriminate waste disposal, across the state.

The presiding magistrate underscored the gravity of the offences and impact on the environment, subsequently imposing a fine of ₦30,000 on each offender, with an option of six hours of community service, in designated areas like the General Hospital, Odan, and Tinubu Market in Lagos Island.

Beyond shutting markets and punishing violators, dialogue, awareness and other engagements, have also been well explored by the government and its core environmental agencies especially LAWMA.

Determined to instil a positive environmental consciousness in the younger generation, the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), last November, went on a sensitisation mission to pupils of Otto Primary School, Otto, Lagos Mainland, on proper waste management, with emphasis on recycling, as a source of personal revenue.

The Managing Director/CEO of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, who led the team, addressed the pupils on the importance of proper waste management, noting that the exercise was part of the Authority’s environmental sustainability initiatives, to instill responsible waste management practices in children.

He said; “I am glad to be among you all today. In LAWMA you mean so much to us and that is why we have deemed it fit to visit your school first, being the closest to us here in Otto. Diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and the like, thrive in environments that are unkempt and polluted with activities like littering, reckless waste dumping, and open defecation and so on. To avoid all of these, it behoves you to do what is right by disposing of your waste properly into the waste bins’’, he stressed.

As the 3-week moratorium before the enforcement of total ban on styrofoam packs endures, LAWMA has held a consultative meeting with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), where it discussed ways of implementing sustainable waste management strategies, in view of the latest developments.

Addressing the stakeholders, managing director/CEO of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin reiterated the Authority’s commitment to the Lagos State Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S Plus agenda, stressing that the state government had to ban Styrofoam to protect the environment and safeguard public health.

Gbadegesin, said the Authority would continue to place premium on establishing a cleaner and healthier environment, promising to continue to identify and address environmental challenges across the state, and to work tirelessly, to make Lagos a cleaner, more sustainable city.

On the overall, the government’s holistic approach signals a responsible, coordinated and proactive leadership in the state, helping to assure of conducive environment for all and sundry and preventing environmental disasters caused by poor hygiene and related habits.

No serious government should allow actions that can jeopardise citizens health and safety, and the state government has shown through its continued actions, that it could walk the talk and would not hesitate to take decisive measures to protect the environment and safeguard lives and properties of over 22 million residents.

LAWMA, MAN Collaborate for Environmental Sustainability

… Styrofoam ban in public interest

The Lagos Waste Management Authority, (LAWMA) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), have met to discuss ways of implementing sustainable waste management strategies, following the recent ban on usage of styrofoam packs in the state.

Addressing the stakeholders, managing director/CEO of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin reiterated the Authority’s commitment to the Lagos State Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S Plus agenda, stressing that the state government had to ban styrofoam to protect the environment and safeguard public health.

He said: “It is necessary to establish that lack of access to a good environment, lack of awareness about the dangers of some of the items we make use of to consume food causes a lot of damage to our health. It is high time we faced the reality and choose only what is right and healthy for the people. Here in LAWMA, we are open to collaborations as long as it is for the good of the people, we will continue to support the Lagos State Government’s effort at entrenching policies that promote environmental sustainability and public health”, he noted.

“It is not right to place narrow business interest of a few individuals above the larger challenge of public interest. So styrofoam has to go”, he concluded.

Earlier in his opening address, the immediate past chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Frank Onyegbu, noted that the meeting was convened to be on the same page with the Lagos State government on matters of the environment, adding that a bold step was being taken by the association in providing alternatives, with the current implementation of the ban of  Styrofoam products.

He said: “To ensure that we are not caught up with the current situation in future, we will not wait till the government announces further ban on other products we are manufacturing. To achieve this, we will take a cursory look at how our products affect the environment and make adjustments, where necessary.

“Going forward, with the present leadership of LAWMA, we are optimistic of a quality partnership with the Authority. We will work together with them to ensure we achieve a cleaner and healthier Lagos”, Onyegbu added.

The meeting had in attendance, management staff of LAWMA, representatives of plastic production companies in Lagos and members of MAN.

In a related development, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab hosted representatives of the National Association of Supermarkets and Operators of Nigeria (NASON), where he noted that the ban on styrofoam packs should be viewed from the larger picture of public interest.

He stated further that Abia State had also banned styrofoam packs, underscoring the inherent dangers it posed, adding that the decision to ban styrofoam and other single-use plastics, had been taken at the National Council on Environment in 2021, with a three-year window for commencement of enforcement in 2024.

The Commissioner averred that at the expiration of the current three-week window given to distributors and sellers to mop the products in circulation, the state would commence enforcement of the ban, promising that it would be carried out in a civil but firm manner.

He submitted that all other single-use plastics (SUPs) would be banned before the year ends, adding that there would be windows for deliberations with all stakeholders before a total phase-out.

Wahab also urged manufacturers to be more innovative about coming up with substitutes to single-use plastics just as many countries including the massively populated India, have successfully done away with styrofoam, despite its reputation of being the country with the largest concentration of eating-out points.

It will be recalled that the Lagos State government recently banned the use and production of styrofoam packs, due to its immense adverse effects on the environment.

Kadiri Folashade (Mrs.)

Director, Public Affairs

01/02/2024

PRESS RELEASELAGOS ANNOUNCES BAN ON USAGE OF STYRO FOAMS AND OTHER SINGLE USE PLASTICS

Lagos State Government on Sunday announced a ban on the usage and distribution of Styrofoam and other single use plastics in the State with immediate effect.

This was announced by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab in a statement he personally signed.

According to Wahab, the decision was reached following the menace which the single use plastics especially the non-biogradeable Styrofoam was causing on the environment.

He added that most drainage channels in the state are daily clogged up by Styrofoam through its indiscriminate distribution and usage despite the regular cleaning and evacuation of the drains with humongous amounts.

He reiterated that the larger chunk of litterings across major roads and markets which LAWMA contends with daily is made up of styro foams.

The Commissioner added that the State Government cannot fold its hands and watch the continued desecration of its environment especially for a coastal city.

Mr Wahab has subsequently directed the State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Kick Against Indiscipline to immediately commence the implementation of the ban.

He asked two agencies to clamp down on all the production companies and distribution outlets for Styrofoam in the state to prevent further distribution.

Mr Wahab explained that the State took the present action, relying on several enabling laws and regulations such as the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulation 2009 which was established pursuant to NESREA Act that prohibited and specifically ban single use plastic in the country but has not been enforced.

Other laws, according to Wahab, include the 2017 State Environmental Management and Protection Law which states under section 56(I) (y) “prevent, stop or discontinue any activity or omission, which is likely to cause harm or has caused harm to human health or the environment.

The Commissioner advised producers, distributors, and end-users of these styrofoam packs to take the ban seriously and find alternatives or risk heavy fines, and other penalties including sealing of their premises.

He warned that they could also be made to bear the costs of the daily cleanup of their products from our roads and drainage channels which runs into tens of millions of naira daily.

“Our state cannot be held hostage to the economic interests of a few wealthy business owners compared to the millions of Lagosians suffering the consequences of indiscriminate dumping of single use plastics and other types of waste”, he stated.

According to Wahab, the well known consequence include climate change, flooding, and diseases like cholera.

He adviced Consumers and residents to boycott styrofoam packs and single use plastics while imbibing the practice of using reusable food containers and water bottles for their food and drinks.

“The convenience of single use plastic comes at a huge cost to the society. We must all make small sacrifices for our collective well-being”, Wahab pleaded.

Signed
Kunle Adeshina
Director, (Public Affairs)
MOE&WR
January 21, 2024

“Governor Sanwo-Olu Supports LAWMA Sanitation Workers Amid Fuel Subsidy Removal”

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has distributed food items to sanitation workers of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal. The event took place at The State House, Ikeja.