By Feyintola Olatito
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday said existing structures and current realities in waste management in the state reveal deficiencies that do not align with the state government’s vision of a smart city.
The governor spoke at the 2018 World Habitat Day held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, in Alausa, Ikeja area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, with the theme; “Municipal Solid Waste Management.”
According to the governor, waste generation was a natural phenomenon as a result of human activities and that the challenges of managing solid waste could be over emphasized, while acknowledging efforts that previous administrations had put in place, with the formulation of various policies on municipal waste management.
“However, the astronomical increase in population annually and the resultant waste generation necessitate a re-focus, in the interest of our State. The existing structures and current realities reveal deficiencies (especially equipment and infrastructural gaps) that do not align with the State Government’s vision of a smart city,” Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule said.
He said in the quest for a holistic approach towards solving the challenges of waste management, the state government, in line with global best practices conceptualized the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), saying that the initiative was a strong resolve and commitment to redefining solid waste management in the State.
The governor pointed out that astronomical population growth, increasing living standard of people, new settlements and emerging industries to meet human needs for survival increased waste generation in the state, adding that these wastes from industrial and domestic activities, when not properly disposed off, caused a lot of harm in the environment and bred various diseases.
“One of the challenges faced in the world today is pursuit of a clean and sustainable environment in order to break the cycle of diseases and promote good health.The Lagos State Government through the “Cleaner Lagos Initiative” has been sensitizing the populace on the need for a clean environment and encouraging all to adopt the collective responsibility of caring for our environment and ensuring its livability and sustainability,” he said.
Ambode argued that for the waste management framework to be effective there was need comprehensive technological development, environmental education and awareness programmes for the populace, saying that his administration placed a lot of emphasis on clean-up campaigns.
He added that effective Solid Waste Management required a paradigm shift in government’s quest for environmental sustainability, a new mind-set which would revolve around responsibility, partnership and stewardship, while urging all to join hands with the government in ensuring a clean and hygienic environment.
Speaking, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye said many state governments disbursed a good percentage of their funds on domestic waste management, stressing that Lagos State had a population of over 20 million and that it therefore meant that the state required huge funds to be earmarked for domestic waste management to provide necessary facilities for operators engaged in collection and disposal of domestic waste.
He said good policies were sacrosanct but that it was in the area of implementation that government needed to make a difference.
“Therefore, all of us as managers must ensure that policies are strictly implemented and adhered to. We need attitudinal change and resolve to move towards Zero Waste economy whereby output of each resource is converted into input for a better use,” he said.
The Guest Speaker, Idowu Salawu, who spoke on “Municipal Solid Waste Management in Contemporary Nigeria: A Case Study of Lagos State,” recommended that the international best practice for Lagos and other state governments to tackle waste was to go back to collection from the household level.
“Sorting waste into plastic, glass and so on, t the household level is an option that the government should explore. The waste management system is a chain. There are components linked to several chains and in that case, if not properly handled, can never work,” he said.