by Usman Alabi and Omoleye Omoruyi
Since 1999 when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu first took office and started the urbanisation campaign that has spread and morphed into what we have today, we were all sold the dream that Lagos was shedding its past and revamping into a Mega City. A Lagos that the world would talk about.
Then, there was gloom that Lagos, the Centre of Excellence and the self-proclaimed commercial city of Nigeria, was still found on a list of ‘worst cities to live’ and virtually everyone wanted to be proactive in ensuring that we have a City of Our Dreams – well… more expansively Nigeria.
Lagos might not have tourist centres (if you exclude Badagry and its moderately preserved colonial relics), but the city is filled with opportunities, and individuals from all walks of life have continued to troop in their numbers.
It was in this sense that we (YNaija.com, YMonitor.com) walked the streets of Lagos to interact with residents on issues pertaining to governance in the state.
Our tour of the state began at Lawanson, Surulere and we were welcomed by filth on the streets.
One of the biggest ways to know if a city is progressive or not is how well it can manage the waste its citizens produce. And it seems Lagos is failing terribly in this regard. Lawanson is the heart of Surulere’s residential area, so we assumed that perhaps it was an anomaly, an outlier that had somehow escaped the purview of the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA).
And so, we journeyed to Ojuelegba, Barracks (before Stadium), Yaba, Idumota, Orile, Ikorodu, Suru Alaba, Mile 12, it was a messed up, filthy heap of dirt at almost every corner.
As much as we do not want to be quick to condemn the ‘Cleaner Lagos Initiative’, or start passing the buck, here are a few things to note.
The Cleaner Lagos Initiative is an initiative of the Lagos state government targeted at effectively managing waste in the state. The Initiative which started late last year is being supported and implemented by Visionscape in partnership with the Lagos state government.
Visionscape is part of the Visionscape group, a Dubai based multifaceted group of companies that specialises in waste management, flexible packaging, polymer compounding, polymer recycling. The organisation has a ten-member board which includes a Nigerian, Adeniyi Makanjoula.
Perhaps the experience of the organisation in waste management explains its selection to implement the Cleaner Lagos Initiative. The Initiative by the Lagos state government means the LAWMA/PSP monopoly in the state’s waste management sector has been completely removed. Even this, has created a new monopoly with Visionscape in charge of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative. The Initiative is said to have provided over 500,000 e-waste bins (said to be electronically trackable) to be distributed across Lagos, is expected to hire and train over 27,000 community sanitation workers who will be distributed within 377 wards in the state. The organisation is also said to have over 500 compactors.
The company is said to be working on the transfer loading stations at Simpson, Oshodi and Agege. Visionscape is also said to be constructing a modern engineered sanitary landfill in Epe.
The Cleaner Lagos Initiative is nothing more than a partnership between the Lagos state government and the Visionscape company. It is to be regulated by LAWMA which is only a regulator in the current setting unlike before when it was both a regulator and an operator.
The question is, if Visionscape is employing over 27,000 people, what happens to those street sweepers who were working for LAWMA before the Cleaner Lagos Initiative was introduced? Have they been absolved by Visionscape?
These and many other questions were on our minds when we paid a courtesy visit to Visionscape’s office on Ogudu road, Ojota, but we were not allowed to speak with anyone.
Under the new model, (Cleaner Lagos Initiative), PSPs will solely be responsible for commercial waste with just one percent administrative charges to the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). Visionscape will solely be responsible for domestic waste under the Cleaner Lagos Initiative.
One would expect that the Lagos state government completely deregulates the sector by absolving more than one waste management company, instead of giving the entire contract to VisionScape alone, especially considering that they have never run a successful waste management programme in Nigeria and do not understand the unique peculiarities of doing business here. If we have about five waste management companies such as VisionScape involved in these Initiative, there would definitely be competition which is good for business and quality service delivery.
Lagos is perhaps too big for one company to manage, laxity will likely set in. Another challenge with this arrangement is that it is peculiar to this administration. When another administration comes in, they might want to fashion out a new way to manage waste. That is why there is a need for more investors. Waste management is serious business.