Engr Hakeem Ogunbami, a retired Permanent Secretary at the Office of Environmental Services of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment has raised concern on the waste management in Lagos while also calling for urgent action by both the state and the inhabitants to address the identifiable weaknesses.
This was during the October Technical Session organsied by the NSE Ikeja Branch in Lagos where he spoke on “Managing Solid Waste in Lagos: Strength and Weakness”. He pointed out that the Waste Management in Lagos has remained a great challenge with several untapped opportunities and called on the government to open up the sector and define roles of all each player.
Engr Ogunbami said that Waste Management has gone far beyond the prehistoric period where, due to fewer world populations, inhabitants would simply move to a new location after waste had accumulated at their previous location. With additional waste in modern era including industrial, chemical, electronics, medical and radioactive, people no longer just abandon wastes.
Engr Ogunbami traced the waste management in Lagos to the year 1977 after the ugly incidence where the World Press described Lagos as the dirtiest Capital City, after the environmental pollution impact of hosting FESTAC 77.
As a result, Lagos State Refuse Disposal Board (LSRDB) was established in April 1977 to ensure a clean and hygienic environment. In 1979, the name was changed to Lagos State Waste Disposal Board (LSWDB) because of the added responsibilities for industrial-commercial waste collection and disposal, drain clearing and disposal of derelict/scrapped vehicles. And in December 1991, came the current name – Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). In 2003, LAWMA introduced Private Sector Participation (PSP) in Solid Waste Management by licensing PSP operators. In 2007, it was re-christened as Lagos Waste Management Authority but with the same acronym LAWMA. He recalled.
Through the years, Lagos has actively worked to address its waste challenges. Some of the visible efforts of the state include: Placement of appropriate legal framework; Introduction of Private Sector Participation (PSP); Construction of Transfer Loading Stations (TLS); Introduction of compactor trucks; Introductions of Containment, Introduction of Material Recovery Facilities (MRF); Establishment of Enforcement and (waste policing) and many others.
He noted however that while the biggest strength of Lagos State comes from collection and transportation of solid waste, it is a common knowledge that cost of operation of transportation sometimes exceeds the cost of operation of a Landfill site.
When benchmarked against the six value-chains of solid waste management namely: Generation, Storage, Collection, Transportation, Processing and Disposal. The weakness far outweighs the strength. Lagos State is still far away from the utopia. The “successes have not been properly weighed against the value of the environmental cost of damage being done by the various inactions and the negative ways of managing wastes. The WEAKNESSES OF LAGOS STATE LIE IN PROCESSING AND DISPOSAL.”
Engr Ogunbami pointed out that the management of solid waste in Lagos State had always been in control of LAWMA with supervisory role of Ministry of the Environment. But over the years, there had been lot cross-cutting and overlapping issues between these bodies.
There are no distinct roles for a Regulator or an arbiter on waste management issues. LAWMA has been known to act as both operator and regulator. He said the entire landscape of Lagos is populated by a group referred to as Association of Waste Management Operators, but the rules of engagement are not clearly spelt out. He equally lamented that many of the Transfer Loading Stations has never been truly operational. He pointed out that there is no engineered landfill in Lagos, rather dump sites. He cited the recent ugly experience of the Burning of Olusosun Dump Site at the Ojota Area of Lagos, due to emission of various hazardous gases.
In his recommendations, he said that the Government must be encouraged and supported to formulate and implement very robust Solid Waste Management Policy Plans and Projects; and properly licence all Solid Waste Management Operators.
He called for revision of the Role of Government from facilitator to promoter and involve both private sector and the communities while also strengthening community-based action-plan for environment and sanitation.
He also went on to recommend integration solid waste management, flood control, water supply and environmental sanitation and called for increase budget allocation to relevant agencies as well as provision of enabling atmosphere for private sector participation.
He concluded with a rallying call that “Solid Waste Management is a Serious Issue that Calls for Urgent Attention by all stakeholders and Engineers in particular”.
Engr. Funmilade Akingbagbohun, Chairman of the Branch, thanked the Guest Speaker for the eye opening presentation which shed more lights on the Strengths and weaknesses of Solid Waste Management in Lagos. Others who made contributions at the event are the former chairman of Ikeja Branch, Engr Kunle Adebajo, Engr Ayo Fanimokun et al.
compiled by Isqil Najim, Tobias Ikemma