The details of how the newly enacted Environmental Management and Protection Bill by the Lagos State Government will transform the lives of everyone working or living in Lagos has started to crystalise.
In addition to creating 27,500 new jobs, the new policy will fast track the process of metamorphosing Lagos State into a cleaner megacity by decisively tackling the problems of air and water pollution, preventing diseases and halting the deterioration of the environment to avert adverse effect on socio-economic activities.
The new policy has also made a very special provision for the thousands of Community Sanitation Workers (CSWs) who will be directly employed to work on the scheme by making their salaries tax free.
Additionally, the new environmental regime will provide numerous insurance benefits including life, health, accident and injury cover to the 27,500 CSWs who will also enjoy a pension scheme.
In a carefully articulated strategy to enhance the quality of lives of the sanitation workers who will be saddled with the task of keeping Lagos clean, an arrangement has been made to ensure that the sanitation workers will only work in their immediate communities, thereby eliminating transportation cost.
Admitting how precarious environmental sanitation issues have become in Lagos State, the state government said: “Lagos is at critical levels of pollution. We must change course because our children’s lives and future depend on it.
The state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, expressed optimism that the new law would result in historic environmental victories for a state which over the years has struggled with effective management of the 10,000 metric tonnes of waste it generates daily.
At the signing ceremony, Ambode said: “I am delighted that our bill has been signed into law. Our major environmental laws are outdated and do not address our present-day challenges.”
Stressing the importance of the bill, Ambode said “we exist in a world where the protection and preservation of public health and the environment have evolved and are primarily driven by data. We cannot compete if our laws are based on obsolete information.”
The governor commended the state House of Assembly for shelving their differences in the best overall interest of the state to align and pass the bill.
“I know that the process of change may seem daunting at first but ultimately this shows that we can achieve a lot on our own and we can join with others for the common good of Lagos State. We have taken everyone along the value chain into consideration from the existing PSPs, to the cart pushers and the scavengers on the landfills. Everyone will be accommodated under this new environmental scheme,” he said.