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The Lagos Environmental Management Law

We welcome the multi-pronged approach of the Lagos State Government to the cleaning up of the state. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, on March 1, signed into law the Environmental Management and Protection Law, which has the objective of protecting, improving and beautifying the environment of the state.

The law provides for the development of an efficient waste management system that will involve the recycling of waste, recovering of materials, creation of markets for the recovered materials and encouragement of waste reduction among the people and industries.

The Cleaner Lagos Initiative is another project directed at addressing the problems of solid waste management. It was set up to deal with challenges of unsafe water, food and energy sources, climate change, air pollution, improper waste management and ageing waste utilities.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the problem of waste management in Lagos, a city with a population of about 22 million people, is gargantuan.  The current arrangement for refuse disposal using the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) and the PSPs is not working because of irregular collection of waste and poor waste management practices, such an unsafe disposal of medical waste.

The people also engage in unsafe disposal of plastic waste in gutters and canals, leading to flooding and traffic gridlocks. There are also issues of air and water pollution.

To address these issues, the state is to rebrand LAWMA into a policy-making and regulatory agency, while the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) in the state will be rebranded as the Lagos State Environmental Corps (LASECORPS) to act as an enforcement agency.

The state has also established an Environmental Trust Fund as a funding mechanism for addressing crucial environmental problems and aiding the implementation of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative.

It will also address drainage remediation, drainage alignment   equipment replacement and the like.

To achieve all these objectives, the state is introducing a Public Utilities Levy (PUL), which will be paid by property occupants, and will replace the current payments for disposal of waste in the state.

The initiatives on a cleaner Lagos are expected to lead to the   creation of over 27,500 jobs.

The state government says it has set up a consortium of reputable international companies involved in the cleaning of many cities in the world, with one of them identified as Visionscape named as the principal waste collection company.

This decision calls for great care to ensure that Lagosians are not disenfranchised. It is good to have a company that has been involved in waste management in the United Kingdom, United Arabs Emirate, the Philippines, Romania and Pakistan, involved in the cleaning of Lagos, to make the city truly clean, but the local population must be fully involved at all levels of the enterprise. The charges to be paid for their services should also be reasonable.

It has been said that the company will use fully integrated waste management and recycling solutions targeted at achieving zero waste through reduction of waste, recycling and reuse of wastes.

We look forward to the best practices in waste management which this plan promises.  We are also happy that the new plans will create many jobs for those who are ready to take up the challenge of cleaning Lagos.

The task of cleaning Lagos is a very important responsibility of the government. It is necessary to clean and beautify the city, if it is to live up to its projection as a megacity by the Lagos authorities.

We commend all these initiatives to improve the Lagos environment and urge Lagosians to cooperate with the government on its plans.

The objective of the Lagos Environmental Management and Protection Law cannot be achieved unless it gets the buy-in of the residents.

This is why the Lagos State government has a responsibility to educate the people on the gains of these initiatives. The objective of the new law should not be to levy or sanction Lagos residents who run foul of its provisions.

Let there be extensive public campaigns on the Cleaner Lagos Initiative. The greater interest of Lagos and Lagosians should also be protected in any deals the government makes with the international service providers.

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