By Olakunle Olafioye

Although Lagos State may not have recorded any major environmental catastrophe occasioned by poor waste management, the state remains a major source of concern to many residents and environmental experts. They claim the development portends serious environmental hazard as the state government continues to play the ostrich with waste management in the state.

Findings by Sunday Sun showed that residents in several  parts of the state have resorted to illegal and environmentally unfriendly options in attempts to get rid of their waste as operators of the Lagos State Waste Management Authorities (LAWMA) have continued to shun several communities in the state. 

Waste collectors, it was gathered, restrict their operations to major towns and communities considered as top priorities while several communities particularly those in the suburbs and areas difficult to access due to the poor state of their roads are abandoned.

Mr Segun Ogunyemi, a private school teacher and resident of Surulere community in Aminkanle area of Agbado Oke-Odo LCDA, told Sunday Sun that since waste collectors do not reach his community, people in his neighbourhood have developed diverse ways of getting rid of their waste. 

He, however, noted that a good number of them have embraced not too good options, which according to him, poses serious health concern in their communities. “Waste disposal is a major challenge to the people in this area because waste trucks don’t get to most streets around this area. They have always complained that they cannot get into many streets in the community because of the poor state of the roads. That is why you see people resorting to burning or dumping their refuse at undesignated and illegal refuse dumpsites, including in nearby canal and water channels around this area,” he noted.

Ogunyemi revealed that there are individuals in his neighborhood who go as far as several kilometres in their bid to get their waste disposed safely. 

“I, for instance, I go as far as Agege to dump my waste. I don’t allow it to accumulate unnecessarily to the point of becoming a burden to me. I package whatever waste we generate at home between two to three days in a polythene material and dump it at Moshalasi Alhaja in Agege where a waste container is stationed permanently. There are several other people who employ this option, but a good number of people, particularly those without means of mobility are taking other dangerous options without considering the implications of their actions on other people around them,” he pointed out.

The situation is not different at several other parts of the state,  including ijaye-Ojokoro, some parts of Agege, Egbeda, Ayobo and other areas where residents’ complaints range from selective coverage to total blank out of their areas by waste collectors. 

A resident of Abule Okoro at Moshalashi area in Ojokoro LCDA, Mrs. Remilekun Oniyide, told Sunday Sun that the failure of operators serving the area to cover the entire community was attributable to the emergence of illegal dumpsites in the area.

 “People living in streets that are left out each time the refuse trucks came around are in the habit of throwing their refuse around while some others burn theirs. Some will even dump their refuse in drainages whenever it rains. Although the community has been able to enforce the law prohibiting dumping of refuse in drainages, there are still people who dispose their waste into drainages at nights without being caught. The immediate effect of their action is blocked drainages that you see everywhere,” Mrs Oniyide said.

  At Ikola in Ipaja – Command area, residents in some areas have similar complaints of partial servicing of the area by the waste management agency in the state. 

A community leader in the area, Mr Isiaka Agboola told Sunday Sun that the Lagos State government needs to review the operation of LAWMA so as to know what should be done to ensure holistic coverage of the state. Agboola, who though confessed that his community is being serviced, however, pointed out that there are other communities in the areas which are not being serviced. 

“In  a situation where there are people who have the challenge as to where to throw their wastes you can be sure that those who do not have such challenge cannot be exonerated from the repercussion of the unhealthy practices the former group may resort to,” Agboola pointed out.

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The community leader disclosed that heaps of waste dumped by people especially at nights was a regular sight on the several roads in the area. 

This and several other illegal and environmentally hazardous alternatives which people embrace in the quest of getting rid of their wastes, he noted, would continue to be part of the waste management story in the state until the state government comes up with a more efficient way of capturing every community in the state in its waste management programme. 

“The government must ensure that every community is captured in its waste management programme in order to make the state safer. There are people who burn their waste; there are those who just dump their waste on the road and there are those who dump their own refuse in the canal in the area. The people wouldn’t have taken to these unsafe options if they were properly serviced by the designated agency,” he noted.

An environmentalist, Kenneth Ezebuike, said that waste management deserves serious attention of any serious government in order to safeguard the health of the people. 

Ezebuike, who opined that there has been a tremendous improvement in waste management in Lagos State in the recent years, pointed out that the sight of heaps of garbage along some roads in parts of the state is an indication that there is still room for improvement. 

“In my personal assessment, Lagos State has been able to scale up its performance in the area of waste management in the last few years. But to know that we still have people who still take their refuse to some undesignated dumpsites, including our roads and major canals and other water channels,  goes to show that the government still has more work to do,” Ezebuike observed.

Speaking on the consequences of embracing risky waste management options, the environmental expert warned that unhealthy waste management practices expose people to a number risks and health hazards. 

According to him, “getting rid of one’s waste in unhealthy manner such as by burning can predispose the people to serious health problems because waste burning is a significant source of dangerous carcinogen like dioxins, furans and others that contribute to climate change and human health issues. 

“Similarly, those who dump theirs at illegal dumpsite or indiscriminately should know that their actions put everybody, including themselves at the risk of contracting all manners of air borne and water borne diseases.”

He, therefore, called on the state government to put machinery in place in order to ensure that no community is left out in its waste management programme in the state. 

“One of the obvious challenges militating against proper coverage of all communities in the state is the problem of accessibility due to bad roads. LAWMA and its agents can overcome this challenge by making arrangement for the use of hand-push trucks, the type being used by scavengers, to reach those areas difficult that are to access. Alternatively, they can station waste containers very close to those areas for people to dump their waste and ensure timely and regular evacuation of the waste,” he suggested.

When Sunday Sun got across to the Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Waste Management Agency, LAWMA, Mrs Sade Kadiri, on Wednesday, November 10, she demanded to know the affected areas in the state.

She later promised to get back after she was furnished with the list of some of the areas covered by Sunday Sun’s report, but she had yet to do so as at the time this report was filed. 

A reminder sent to her on the request last Thursday was acknowledged without further response.

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