From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja The decision to retain health maintenance organisations (HMOs) as part of the country’s health insurance programme caused a major disagreement between the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services and the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman. Usman, at the just concluded two-day investigative hearing…
Refuse takes over Lagos
By Sunday Ani
Unless something happens fast, residents of Lagos may have to contend with an epidemic soon. This is because refuse has taken over parts of the state. Yesterday, Daily Sun went round certain parts of the metropolis and saw heaps of garbage, competing for attention.
A mountain of refuse welcomes you to Pipeline bus stop/market along Idimu – Egbeda Road. There, rotten food stuff and other wastes are dumped at the front of the market. Interestingly, sellers and buyers transact their business under the unhygienic condition without a care. Orange sellers are busy, peeling and selling their oranges in the midst of flies just like boys selling yoghurt attended to children.
It was gathered that the refuse collectors have not visited the market for about four weeks hence the ‘mountain’ sprouting there. One of the traders, who refused to disclose her name, said: “We have not seen them for some weeks. They stopped coming to carry dirt, even before Christmas. That’s why the place is like this.”
Going from Pipeline bus stop to Iyana Iba, in Ojo Local Government Area, you see heaps of refuse at most of the bus stops. The worst scenes include Igando, Obadore and Iba junction. The Iyana Iba section of the Lagos – Badagry Expressway is a different thing entirely. The centre of the road has turned a sort of dump site even as dirts litter the neighbourhood. In fact, during the Yuletide, chickens were being sold and slaughtered right in the middle of the road, and the dirt generated thrown about. It is more or less a lawless avenue, as okada riders stop in the centre of the road, looking for passengers.
Coming up to Mile 2, the story is not different. Residents of the area have converted virtually all the bus stops to dump sites. Some sections of the new road under construction have been taken over by refuse. Volkwagen, Agric, Abule Osun/Under bridge and Agboju bus stops hold the flag in terms of indiscriminate disposal of waste. Ojo Barracks area is an eye sore, as garbage is free flowing. The front of the police station can make you throw up. Worst still, some portions of the expressway have become public toilets. You see people defecating openly, even in broad day light. It is a disgusting sight.
Headquarters of dirt
As soon as one gets to the Orile bus-stop from Mile 2, the first ugly sight that catches one’s attention is the heaps of refuse dump lined up along the median of the new Orile-Mile 2-Badagry Expressway still under construction. A step further to the Apapa/Wharf-Ijora bus loading spot is another heap of refuse, begging to be removed.
An enraged bus conductor told our correspondent that the incessant dumping of refuse there is a big problem to them but they cannot stop it. He said that the stench that oozed from the spot was always nauseating and that some passengers, who cannot endure the offensive ordour always leave to find an alternative bus stop. This, he said, affected their business.
Said he: “It is affecting us but our own is temporal. We only load and endure the odour for the moment and leave. However, sometimes, we spend longer time, loading because some passengers, who don’t have the patience to endure the odour will always leave to find another way. When such a thing happens, it delays us, thereby wasting our time, which eventually reflects on our daily returns. The people I pity most are those that stay all-day around the place plying their daily businesses. But, again, they are the ones that indiscriminately dump the refuse. So, in a way, they are reaping what they sowed. Although Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) clears the refuse, they don’t do that as regularly as they ought to.”
However, moving towards Doyin area of Orile on the right hand side, if you are coming from Mile 2, one is faced with massive refuse site that stretches over 100 metres. In-between the refuse site, there is a settlement known as Bola, which is populated mainly by people from a section of the country. They deal on fairly used domestic property, such as rug carpets and foams as well as empty plastic containers. In front of the Bola community is a quadrangle where oranges and water melons are sold. It is a wonder how human beings survive in the environment.
According to a young man, Kazeem, who conducted our reporter round Bola, LAWMA doesn’t have business with Bola. In other words, the refuse at Bola is not being cleared by LAWMA or any agency. Bola, he said, was just like a dump site where people from Orile and its environs are free to go and drop their refuse any time.
He said: “This place called Bola is where people dump their refuse. People live inside that place. In-between the two dump sites is where orange, water melon sellers from the North do their business. Even if you like, come around 2am to dump your refuse, you will still find this place bubbling. Even the orange and water melon market dealers dump their refuse at Bola.
“LAWMA doesn’t come near Bola. But, other areas outside Bola where people drop their refuse are being cleared by LAWMA, although not regularly. If you go to Orile bus-stop, you will see what I am saying.”
On Wharf Road in Apapa, opposite Union Bank, is another heap of refuse. More worrisome is the fact that the refuse site is right in front of a massive building. One would wonder why the frontage of such a massive edifice should be converted to a refuse dump. But a woman, who sells around the place and who gave her identity simply as Mama Musa, attributed the development to the fact that nobody or organisation was currently occupying the building. She said: “People dump refuse there just because the company that used to do business there is no longer around and nobody is occupying the building currently. However, LAWMA occasionally comes around to clear the refuse but they are not as regular as people would expect them to be. They need to double their efforts because some of us that do business around here do not find it easy.”
A step further throws up another surprise. This time, a stretch of about 50 metres of the road median opposite the Nigeria Customs Service office is littered with heaps of refuse. At first, one would think that the Customs Office had been relocated from the place but a closer observation showed that the men are still doing their work there. When our reporter approached a young man, standing around the entrance, who probably is a Customs officer but on mufti for his comment, he said: “My brother, it has always been like that. We don’t even know the people that dump the refuse but I suspect that they do it during the night. However, LAWMA officials always clear it, but maybe because of this New Year holiday, that is why you still have it like that. I am sure they will come to clear it later today or early in the morning tomorrow because this does not speak well about the image of the Nigeria Customs Service.”
The entire median of Creek Road, leading into the Apapa Wharf is littered with refuse. A man doing business on the other side of the road, directly opposite some of the refuse dumps, who did not want his name in print, said: “The refuse is dumped by people from Safele Street and Railway Market. But, the people at Railway Market pay LAWMA for clearing the refuse. Once the refuse is cleared, they issue receipt to the market people. That is to say that they are free to dump the refuse here as long as they are willing to pay, not minding what some of us doing business here go through every day.
“Apart from the traders in the market, people from Safele side and its surrounding also dump refuse here. It affects us badly but how many people are you going to challenge? Before you know it, they have dropped the refuse and there is nothing you can do about it. It is not something you can fight. And there is a way you talk; it would appear as if you are the owner of the road.
“The heaps you are seeing have been there for over five days now. If you look very well, you will see some maggot crossing over to our shops here from that spot. I have swept this place for about three times today just to make sure that there is no maggot but you can still see some if you look around very well. In the morning, maggot will invade this place. Those charged with the responsibility of clearing the refuse are not doing enough. They don’t clear them regularly and that is why maggots always grow there. Please, they should help us and ensure that the refuse is cleared regularly; in fact, on a daily basis. After all, if not for the kind of country we are in, is anybody supposed to dump refuse in front of a sea port as big as Apapa Wharf ? But this is Nigeria where anything goes. We only pray that LAWMA or whatever agency that is responsible for evacuating the refuse should rise up to their responsibility so that this sort of ugly sight is eliminated.”
However, a source at LAWMA informed that the organisation would do something about the development. He also appealed to residents to stop indiscriminate disposal of refuse.