By Oji Odu
In most parts of the Lagos metropolis, dirt has taken over. From Alimosho, Shomolu, Badore, Mushin, Ajegunle, Ikorodu et cetera, the situation is same, prompting the belief by Lagosians that Visionscape, the waste disposal company in the state cannot deal with about 13,000 metric tons of waste generated in the state daily, about the highest in sub-Sahara Africa. This is also posing a huge challenge to the state, and with grave health implications for its citizens. The situation has also raised fears that the company will likely mess up Lagos state water system which it has been contracted to improve on.
The Magazine’s findings reveal that with this huge challenge and threatening epidemic, Lagosians have decided to take the bull by the horns to dispose the mounting waste within their communities. This has led to the return of the waste disposing cart pushers, with the alleged downing of tools by the PSPs.
James Ali, resident of Irawo, off Ikorodu Road, Lagos is angry that Visionscape with all the hype by government that it was going to deal with the problem of the state within the shortest possible time, as the area would have become a refuse dump site had the people who have been paying their waste disposal fees not engaged the services of cart waste disposal operators.
“ The situation is worrisome, and if the state does not declare an S.O.S in the waste disposal sector in the state, we will wake up one morning and find out that waste has taken over Lagos state.
“ It was not like this before the coming of Visionscape, when the PSPs and cart pushers were legally allowed to operate. Visionscape has no vision to move the state sanitation forward,” he lamented.
While pleading with the state government to hasten action and deal with this threatening and embarrassing situation, Ali regretted that only the high brow areas seem to be top priority in Visionscape’s operations.
In Oke- Odo, and most areas in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos state, with the absence of Visionscape and PSPs, women are seen filling the gap in the waste disposal business with cart pushers. The women charge between N100 and N500 per waste depending on the size of the waste. This they dispose at Ilepo area.
“ Does the state have any moral justification to stop them? Of course no, because it has failed in its duty. These women and cart pushers have to settle the touts at the dump site before they are allowed to dispose of their waste.
The poor performance by Visionscape had prompted investigations by the Lagos state House of Assembly on the operations of Visionscape. However in spite of the ongoing investigation by Lagos State House of Assembly, Visionscape management has reiterated its commitment to fulfilling its part in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, CLI. The company also expressed its willingness to work with PSP operators in Lagos. According to the company’s Head, Corporate Communications, Montunrayo Elias, over 100 PSP operators had joined VSS to aid waste collection in the state.
While giving update on the operation s of the company, she said: “Our plan is to service all the residential areas in the streets of Lagos state. We have a lot of black spots or illegal dump sites in the states. We want to clear all the black spots before moving into the residential areas.”
Meanwhile, Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has asked the Lagos State Government to terminate any agreement it may have entered into with Visionscape in the water sector considering its performance in waste management which has shown that it will also throw the water sector into crisis.
The environmental rights group made the emergency call following general outcry that has greeted the alleged poor operations of Visionscape which the Lagos State Government contracted to implement its Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).
The Lagos government paved the way for the company to take-over waste management under a PPP arrangement after it introduced a bill that merged all waste management agencies in the state into one. The law was passed by the state House of Assembly in April 2017 and the company took over refuse management operations from local operators on September 1, 2017.
Four months into its operations following the takeover from PSPs, ERA/FOEN said the streets of Lagos are replete with uncollected waste littering major roads, fronts of residences in inner streets and the outskirts of the state.
Last year also, the Lagos State government had announced that it has entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Visionscape for the management of Adiyan II water project which has prompted negative reactions from the people.
ERA/FoEN in a statement by its Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that the poor outing of Visionscape does not come as a surprise to civil society and grassroots groups who have not relented in their call for the state government to quit its “PPP misadventure which unfortunately also targets the water sector.
“The embarrassing showing of Visionscape despite the publicity blitz about its waste management prowess is a reflection of how PPPs fail to deliver. It is disheartening that the state government has picked the same company along with its consortium partner –Metito to manage Lagos water.”
Oluwafemi pointed out that the speed with which the Lagos House of Assembly signed the bill that opened the door for Visionscape to become a major operator in the waste management sector in Lagos is in itself an anomaly, which has forced the state governor,Akinwunmi Ambode to force the newly elected Local Council Chairmen to take waste disposal in their domains as top priority.
“At the time Lagosians were alarmed that the state government put forward a PPP in the waste management sector as the solution to some observed inefficiencies by the local operators. Now it is clear that the PPP thing is a myth just like we had all along warned”
“Visionscape’s operations have been so embarrassing that at a point the Lagos Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode forced newly elected local council chairmen to take clearing of waste within their communities as a major duty.”
Oluwafemi stressed that beyond the existing chaos, the models upon which PPP is based have failed to uphold the human right to water and locked governments into long-term contracts, even as he cautioned that the firms shortlisted under the Adiyan II project, because of their track-records, will also bring the chaos into the Lagos water sector.
The shortlisted firms are AG Gold Trust Nigeria Limited, Vision Scape Water Solutions Limited/Metito, Veolia/Shoreline Group and Abegoa and Naston & Partners.
“Just like we provided details of the violations by the other firms handpicked by the state government, considering Visionscape’s demonstration of unbridled incapacity in management of solid waste in Lagos, the prospects of a Metito-Visionscape consortium to manage Adiyan II are very bleak. Lagos residents will not relent in the use of all legitimate means to demand for the human right to water to be fully upheld as an obligation of the government, representing the people,” he insisted.