Lagos State is managing waste generated by over 20 million residents.
It is not news that Lagos is Africa’s most populated city. Any individual or body managing a project involving this magnitude of people should be commended for even having the courage to dare, as the prospective challenges are bound to be numerous and unavoidable. With the rapid urbanization of Lagos, waste generation in the state has been on a significant rise.
Lagos State is managing 13,000 metric tonnes daily with old infrastructure.
The figure above means that 80% of the waste generated in Lagos state is derived from residential waste, i.e. waste from individuals and households. 13 million kg of waste is being managed by infrastructure constructed in the 1970s for a population of 3 million.
What happened to LAWMA and PSPs?
PSPs have not been forced out of operation, they are now called Waste Collection Operators. They have been recertified, licensed and provided with a loan facility by the Lagos state government for repairs and purchase of new equipment. WCOs (former PSP operators) are now focused on commercial waste, Visionscape is the WCO in charge of Residential waste. All Waste Collection Operators will be regulated by LAWMA.
The previous system was working. Why change it?
While waste was disappearing from the roads and our houses, it was building up elsewhere and constituting potentially catastrophic incidences. Ideally, waste sorting, recycling and disposal should occur at an Engineered landfill but for decades Lagos only had dumpsites at Olusosun, Solous, Ikorodu, and Igando. It was necessary to upgrade existing infrastructure, redesign the components; and increase efficiency.
The Olusosun dumpsite is 25 years old and a ticking time bomb.
This dumpsite which has stared at all entrants into Lagos in the face for years now had long been marked for closure. Although contractors intensified construction of the Transfer Loading Stations and engineered sanitary landfill at Epe to relieve the Olusosun dumpsite; the recent fire at Olusosun was catalyzed by methane gas combustion, not waste burning – a situation that the CLI is designed to prevent. The reforms under the Cleaner Lagos Initiative are proactive and when fully implemented would prevent similar occurrences.
No fewer than 4 agencies have been responsible for waste management in Lagos State.
Over the years, Lagos State has created several agencies to tackle namely: Lagos State Refuse Disposal Board (LSRDB), 1977; Lagos State Waste Disposal Board (LSWDB), 1981; Lagos State Waste Management Authority, 1991; and Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), 2007. Despite these, infrastructural gaps persisted – waste management facility commissioned in 2011 were dilapidated by 2016.
The Cleaner Lagos Initiative is a waste management reform in Lagos State. To achieve better results in waste management, the State government created the Cleaner Lagos Initiative geared towards addressing, enforcing and regulating the challenges in solid waste management systems. The CLI aims to protect the environment, human health and social living standards of Lagosians.
2500 Compactors are needed to effectively manage waste in Lagos State.
At the point of inception, the total number of waste trucks in Lagos were less than 500. The CLI is working with over 400 contractors with the addition of 900 Compactors into the system. This number will continue to grow. All contractors under the CLI are working to upgrade their equipment and operations.
The CLI is providing jobs and a boost the economy. Offering not only environmental, but also significant economic benefits, the CLI is poised to deliver over 27,500 direct jobs and 6500 indirect jobs. Most of the contractors under the scheme are local companies.
Lagos State is driving behavioural change as an integral part of the CLI. To make the CLI work, Lagos State plans to campaign for behavioural change among residents, to embrace the three R’s concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycling of waste and conserve the environment. In the 21st century, Resource management is the goal!
Ok, this is all great, I just want to know, why is Lagos still dirty?
When the Cleaner Lagos Initiative was introduced, it was agreed that PSP operators would transition from residential waste collection to commercial waste collection and work closely with the new residential waste collectors to ensure that there were no gaps in service delivery. Unfortunately, there was dissension between PSP operators and the government which led to a court case instigated by the PSPs who the withdrew from waste collection in the state leaving the yet to be announced Visionscape Sanitation to handle roadside waste heaps and residential waste collection simultaneously.
However, although the expected “handshake” wasn’t initially as smooth as expected, these PSPs (now WCOs) have now reached an agreement with the state government and entered into a partnership with Visionscape Sanitation to work to rid Lagos of the unsightly heaps of waste dotting the city. The waste situation has and will continue to improve considerably as all WCOs work closely together to achieve the primary goal of a Cleaner Lagos for all.
Right, I’ve heard- why are the reforms taking so long?
As with any systemic change, plans earmarked for a long-term period can hardly be carried out as swiftly as would be preferred. A standard engineered sanitary landfill takes 18-24 months to construct; as this goes on in the background, bin distribution to households, roadsides, markets for large volume collection are taking place simultaneously. A reformed system cannot be delivered in the short term, patience and support of citizens is required!