By Oji Odu
“Visionscape, the new operators of Lagos state waste management cannot solve the problems of really managing waste in the state. Like other political appointments, they are just speaking English to confuse Lagosians of their ability and preparedness to manage over 15 metric million tonnes of waste generated daily in Nigeria’s ‘Centre of Excellence’.
“From the way they are operating, it shows that that they don’t have any vision. They are like the electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) who are just there to collect revenue as they lack the technical, financial and managerial ability to solve the problems of the nations power,” Kingsley Olatunji, a civil servant lamented.
After allegation by government that the scheme is being sabotaged, and that it is finding it rather difficult to bring in the 600 trucks for the programme to be effective, Ifeoluwa Abe, a student queried: “ What was wrong with the PSP and others that managed waste during the former Governor Babatunde Fashola administration? During that time, the LAWMA trucks were seen everywhere collecting and disposing waste. Unfortunately, it seems the new Visionscape has rather turned Lagos state into a dumping site.”
One Kalofy sees the situation as a political battle against former Governor Fashola, regretting that they are of the same All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him: “ During Babatunde Fashola’s administration, Lagos State was clean, at least, the developed areas. A new government comes in, from the same party as the previous government, and proceeds to destroy a system that was at least delivering some value.
“The new waste management system is similar to most of the other projects of the current government: poorly executed, won’t last and deliver little or no value. The question is: why dismantle a system that was working? Why not improve it? Could it be so much hatred for, or envy of, the previous governor? I’m very saddened by how mere envy and desire to give “the boys a big job” have combined to send us back to an era we left behind more than 10 years.”
In a chat with Wole Adigun, a trader, he said that Lagos is too big for Visionscape. “ Imagine the small refuse bins that are being used. They cannot contain the waste generated by the areas they claim to cover. See for yourself, the dirt is always overflowing thereby making the city an eyesore. It’s, indeed, pathetic,” he said.
The Magazine’s findings reveal that from Banana Island which is a high brow area of Lagos state to Bariga, Mushin, Ajegunle et cetera, the situation is same. It is either the environment has been overtaken by dirt due to the non presence of Visionscape or the very small waste bins.
An angry motorist at Ojota told the Magazine: “ The only way the new LAWMA(Cleaner Lagos) people have affected us is that we can see them in their new uniform. One of them did drama the other day while trying to pick pieces of paper with a fork-like instrument. Her failure caused much laughter from people who thought they were just fooling themselves.”
Visionscape Group, a Dubai-based environmental utility group, contracted by the state government last year is engaged in talks with the local waste operators (also known as public sector partnership, PSP, operators) on collaboration for domestic waste collection having recognised their inability to alone manage Lagos waste.
“On February 12, Visionscape placed advertorials in, at least, two national dailies calling for Expressions of Interest for the “short haul transportation of municipal and solid waste” in the state. According to the advertorial which came as a result of a breakdown of negotiations between Visionscape and the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria (AWMN), to qualify for participation, the bidder shall be a licensed and recognised PSP, owning and operating at least two “environmentally friendly” waste trucks.
Unfortunately, the manner they are going behind to cause division among the members of PSP by targeting individual members and using divide-and-rule tactic, has made the group want to distance themselves from the new waste management outfit because
In her reaction, a PSP operator, Margaret Oshodi said, “they advertised their incompetence, their inability to fulfil their contractual obligations for which they are celebrated as experts, and to which our State Assembly unprecedentedly passed a law exclusive for them inserting the name of their company in Lagos State law to be the only ones that must collect domestic waste from the state.
“By this publication, they appropriated to themselves the role of state agencies of Lagos Waste Management Authority LAWMA and Ministry of Environment, MOE, amongst other regulating and statutory agencies.
“They also tacitly show that the PSPs are good at what they do. PSPs have been helping them move most of the waste they appropriated to themselves through state laws while their promoters look helplessly as their contractor daily engage the services of these same operators they have disparaged all over their sponsored media.”
It is time that Lagos state government acts fast to avoid an outbreak of epidemic in the most populated state in the country with over 20 million people as the heaps of uncleared waste build up in most areas of the state. How long will Lagosians continue to wait until the remainder of the 600 imported waste vehicles arrive and distributed to the 57 Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas?
A stitch in time saves nine, goes the wise saying, and Lagos state should, indeed, be wise.