By COSMAS OMEGOH
For those who earnestly want to be millionaires, Lagos is the preferred destination. Many residents of the city may find this strange to believe.
But again, the message has been handed out: You can become a millionaire easily just by packing waste! Indeed, it’s now easy to become very rich by merely gathering pure water sachets, plastic bottles and other ‘useless’ items. Those items that many in Lagos ignorantly cast aside are increasingly becoming money-spinners to many of the city’s folks.
The Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) is dishing out cool cash to many who now gather waste at streets corners, accumulate them and bring them forth for sale. Daily Sun gathered that this thriving business has been on for quite a while without many knowing it. Those who were actively involved in it were being passed off as unserious scavengers.
But not anymore, as many are now going into the business. This came to the open recently when the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, and LAWMA collaborated to stage a national conference on recycling, with the theme, Recycling: A Succour to Climate Change.
Present on that day was the Head of Department of Geography, Professor Samuel Iyiola Oni, who was the event’s convener. Also there was Mrs. A A Jijoho-Ogun, LAWMA’s General Manager, Administration, who represented the Managing Director, Mr. Ola Oresanya.
There was also Mrs. Juliana Guwan, Director, Marine Environment of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA), who represented the, Director General, Zikade Patrick Akpobolokemi. Both women presented papers on the theme of the conference. One Professor Taiwo represented the Lagos State Transport Authority (LAMATA), just as there were representations from aviation and other sectors of the economy. Various agencies and private individuals with strong interest in the environment were in attendance.
And from the UNILAG community, there were Professors L.O. Oyekunle, HOD, Chemical Engineering; Nwokoma, Dean of Social Sciences; Nwachukwu, Dean of Sciences; Solomon Akinboye, HOD, Political Science, Ademola Omojola; Dr. Olayinka Coker of the health services and many more. Apart from the students of the institution, primary and secondary school students, who were interested in the environment also attended. The event held at Julius Berger Hall in the institution.
Various speakers jolted everyone with the telling truth that every passing day, emerging facts show that humans, more than ever before, are under severe threat of the environment.
The environment is blazing with anger because humans have continued to violate it. Many people keep hurting the earth without knowing how. Such people are unfazed that, the motor tyres, the bush and the wastes they burn, those vehicles speeding down the highways, leaving thick, black smoke on their trail are slowly and steadily eroding a blanket which shields the fury of the sun from the earth.
Consequently, the earth is increasingly being heated up. Huge ice sheets, which for ages were lying at the north and south poles, are now melting and releasing huge volumes of water into the oceans.
The conference noted that experts are shouting themselves hoax, warning that every bad environmental practice has been contributing to global warming and everyone needs to work hard to save the earth.
But unfortunately, only few people are listening. The other clear message was that those sachets of pure water and other refuse that many Nigerians gleefully dump indiscriminately, especially in the urban areas, all have huge potentials to harm. Both the Federal and state governments have been warning that such wastes block drainage channels. And once the rains come down pouring in heavy sheets, flood waters are obstructed by the accumulated rubbish, leaving everyone and every property at risk. In Lagos and other urban communities in the country for instance, the impacts of flood in the recent past were quite devastating.
So, in a move to stave off this ugly development, Lagos State government through LAWMA launched its Buy-Back Project. Men, women and children are all in it. In this project, LAWMA buys one kilogramme of nylon bags for N30, one kilogramme of papers for N5 while one kilogramme of plastic bottles goes for N25. Many are scrambling to key into the business. Mrs Jijoho-Ogun disclosed that LAWMA wanted many more people to join the emerging trade by either going to their offices or calling their toll-free lines for inquiry. “With this, we are working for a cleaner environment,” she said.
“We are encouraging more people in various communities to join so that we can leave the city free of waste. We are not asking our distinguished professors to leave their academics and join the Buy-Back Project, but they can contributing in various ways to help us realise this,” she added. She also told the audience what LAWMA had been doing and the strategies it had been employing to realise a better Lagos.
According to her, some organisations in Lagos including LAWMA, have been buying and recycling some of the rubbish generated in the city to make nylon plastic bags and other products and urged residents to patronise the PSP operators within their areas. In her presentation, Mrs Guwan described recycling as “the process of converting waste or discarded materials into new usable products for the benefit of humanity.”
She noted that the process could reduce environmental degradation through air, water and land pollution, adding that “it has been identified as a modern waste reduction strategy across the globe. She recalled that long before now, the slogan was “waste to waste, but now it is waste to wealth.”
While recounting the strategies her agency had been using to combat climate change, she said recycling was important and urged Nigerians to endeavour to put their waste in the right places for proper disposal. Dr Coker recalled that anytime waste was left in the open, it decomposes and emits methane gases, carbon dioxide and carbon mono oxide. She said the impact of global warming leaves everyone with medical condition such as rashes, stoke as well as psychological problems.
Speaker after speaker, including Professor Taiwo Oyekunle commended the Department of Geography for the initiative, stating that the event was engaging as it was illuminating.
In his response, Professor Oni recalled that the consequences of climate change had been unprecedented in recent times on the Nigerian society, hence the move to consider ways to mitigate the dangers of the phenomenon. Dr Emmanuel Ege, a lecturer in the department of Geography told Daily Sun that the conference “was in line with global best practices whereby universities are involved in investigations into things that have to do with climate change and recycling is one of them,” adding that it was the responsibility of university to show the way through research and investigations.
He said the conference was simply timely. He regretted that waste was still indiscriminately being dumped in the urban areas and said the conference would come up with recommendations that would define the phenomenon in the university and the country.