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INAPPROPRIATE DUMPSITES: Ambode takes the initiative with “Operation Deep Clean”

…..Clears 12,600 metric tonnes of wastes under Visionscape
The process of disposing refuse in the world, in Nigeria in particular, has become a major concern today. It appears to be a losing battle against harmful consequences of unguided refuse collection and disposal – and the attainment of clean healthy environment for all Nigerians.

It has become a common sight in Nigeria today to see heaps of refuse dumps in our urban and commercial cities.

These wastes are an eyesore to the aesthetics of the environment, emitting unpleasant odours – especially when organic composition in the heaps is bacterialised.

The life style of most Nigerians, to say the least, is a reflection of the solid waste generation pattern they have grown up with.

This is reflected in their attitudinal culture of indiscriminate solid waste disposal in all sides of residential apartments, markets, drains, high ways, corners of major and minor streets, manholes as well as undeveloped plots of lands.

Environmentalists frown at this culture as they say the refuse dumps provide breeding grounds for vectors such as mosquitoes and rodents that enhance disease transmission like malaria, diarrhea, and Lassa fever which pose grave public health concern.

At Lanre bus stop in Igando area, the huge refuse dump there is a living example. A resident of that area who gave his name only as Peter recounted the unpleasant odour that emits from the dump to The Daily Times.

The decomposed water from the refuse dump has become acidic, he says, “And when the water touches any part of the body, it starts peeling the skin within minutes.

That refuse dump has contaminated our drinking water; no family can use it for domestic chores. That is why you see people here buying water from boreholes outside this place,” Peter said.

At the Ikotun end of Alimosho Local Government area in Lagos mainland, the Public Relations Officer of the LGA, Comrade Oseni Eniola Badmus acknowledged the existence of the unpleasant situation.

He hinted that the local government has plans underway to find lasting solution to the removal of the refuse dump.

“As we speak, we are working to identify how and where refuse will be disposed properly and to also look into the problems that residents are facing,” he assured.

A source in the know who spoke in confidence government can help in the managing of these waste products to be more useful and less harmful to the people, and this is where waste management comes into play.

“Waste management simply means the collection, keeping, treatment and disposal of waste in such a way as to render it harmless to human and the environment generally.

“It could also be said to be the organised and systematic dumping and channeling of waste through pathway to ensure that they are disposed of, with attention to acceptable public health and environmental safeguard. Good waste management will help the elimination of pollution,” he said.

The improper managing of these waste product can be linked to some factors which include lack of adequate funding, enforcement of waste regulations, lack of comprehensive legal framework, low investment in infrastructure, illiteracy,

wrong attitude of people towards solid waste disposal, proper planning, industrial linkage, uncontrolled urbanisation, poor planning and lack of political willingness on the part of the leaders.

Until these challenges are properly addressed by the relevant authorities and individuals, managing waste disposal will remain a recurring problem in Nigeria.

The government promises to help reduce the waste product by coming up with “Visionscape” a new initiative known as “Operation Deep Clean”, instead of the failed PSP project envisioned to manage waste carriage.

The Daily Times gathered that Lagos state Ministry of the Environment, in conjunction with VS has cleared over 12,600 metric tonnes of waste from over 80 locations across Lagos state.

An official of the body told our correspondent that Visionscape is poised to deploy a cutting edge technology on the streets to manage waste.

A medical practitioner states the implications of waste disposal if not properly handled. “It poses measurable risks to the environment, health, social and psychological life, as well as infrastructure and visual aesthetic of the landscape.

“Open dump sites in developing urban cities are uncontrolled and are therefore responsible for major health threats which affect the landscape of urban cities,” the medic said.

The United Nation Environment Protection Agency (UNEPA), states that “Waste that are not properly managed, especially solid waste from households and the community, causes a serious health hazard and can lead to the spread of infectious diseases.”

It further stated that “Unattended wastes lying around attract flies, rats and other creatures that in turn spread diseases”.

It was gathered that it is the wet waste that decomposes and releases bad odours, which in turn affect the settled residents nearest to the dump sites; this shows that the dump sites have serious effect on the people living in the environment.

The group of people at risk from this inappropriate disposal of solid wastes, experts say, includes the pre-school children, waste workers and workers in factories producing toxic and infectious materials. Direct handling of solid waste can result to various types of infectious and chronic diseases.

“Open dump sites are a major problem to the environment – especially to the air that humans inhale,” a retired waste worker who had suffered internal illness as a direct result of the smell and smoke from dump sites told The Daily Times.

“These cause illness to people living around or closer to the dump sites and waste workers. Worse still, pollutant deposited on the land can enter the body through contaminated crops, fruits, foods, products, animals and water.

“Dump sites closer to residential areas can be a feeding place for dogs and cats apart from rats. These pets with rodents can carry diseases with them to nearby homes.”

The retired official who would not want his name in print, said he and a number of his colleagues suffered respiratory disease, irritation of the eyes, nose and skin, gastrointestinal problems, allergies and psychological disorders, all of which were traced to unregulated dump sites and indiscriminate waste disposal culture of Lagos residents.

State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in his speech recently, revealed that his government was sourcing some 600 compactors from various countries for proper waste management purposes in the state, adding that transfer loading stations across the state would be transformed into organised and well structured waste recycling system.

Executive Director of Visionscape, Mr. Harry Ackerman, informed that the company is working towards total elimination of dumpsites in household and residential areas in the first and second phases of the project.

“Visionscape has made provisions for trucks and tricycles to collect refuse in every part of Lagos – even in the riverine areas, and it runs a 24-hours operation.

The company will roll out an advocacy program to educate the public on better ways to handle waste, especially hazardous ones.”

Ackerman disclosed that under the Cleaner Lagos initiative, 30,000 jobs have been created for sweepers, an agreement backed up by the Lagos state government.

The aim of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, he said, “Is to create an enabling environment for investment. The passage of the law is to enable the private sector to participate in the waste management.

Inappropriate waste disposal causes more harm than good to the society and people in it,” Ackerman said.

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