· Arrests PSP operators for dumping wastes on streets

· Says 50,000 have been employed under new regime

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday claimed that the return of wastes to the streets of the state was deliberately orchestrated to blackmail and sabotage the enforcement of its Environmental Management and Protection Law, 2017.

To support its claim also, the state government disclosed that it arrested four officials of a private sector participation (PSP) operator in waste management, Ayomide Olayinka Ventures for dumping waste on the street of Lagos Island midnight.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, state this in a statement he issued yesterday after officials of the waste management firm were arrested on Lagos Island.

In a similar development, the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, disclosed that the state government had arrested four cart pushers for dumping wastes in unauthorised spots.

At a session with the state correspondents, Durosinmi-Etti said the suspects “will be charged to court. All residents should desist from patronising illegal waste managers. Commercial operations of the CLI would commence fully from March 1.”

Also in a statement he signed yesterday, Bamigbetan claimed that security operatives arrested the suspects on Tuesday morning while discharging wastes from their compactor with registration number FST 908 XG on Lagos Island.

The commissioner said the driver of the compactor, Oloruntele Adekunle and three others were arrested, noting that the waste management company claimed it had its office at No 1A, Kudirat Abiola Way, Old Oregun Road, Ikeja.

He therefore noted that the latest arrest brought the number of PSP operators arrested for similar offence in the last one week to five, while hundreds of cart pushers and wheel barrow operators had equally been arrested for dumping waste in public places and canals in various parts of the state.

He noted that the arrest confirmed the suspicion of the state government that the new environmental waste management policy encapsulated in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) was being sabotaged by vested interests.

He explained a PSP operator was caught along Lagos Island Central Business District discharging wastes on the street and was immediately arrested midnight.

He added that the development showed the institutional corruption that had been lingering in the sector which the state government intends to fight with the reforms put in place.

He said the arrest “is a clear example of the deliberate efforts to sabotage what the state government is doing. The PSP operators are not being driven out of their businesses with the reforms as they are making the public to believe.”

Under the CLI, Bamigbetan said the state government has made provision for the PSP operators to handle collection of commercial waste in the state, noting that there “are over 15,000 companies in Lagos that can serve the over 200 PSP operators in the state.”

Under one year, he said the state government “has been able to employ at least 50,000 under the CLI alone. The government has also stressed itself by getting N2.5billion loan to enable the PSP operators buy equipment to be more competitive.”

He said the PSP operator arrested last week in Mushin area of the state had already been charged to court with the case adjourned to February 26, while the latest suspect would be paraded during the week by the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) and subsequently charged to court.

He said it was unfortunate that some PSP operators were allowing vested interests to use them to blackmail government into abandoning the reforms designed to revolutionize waste management in the State in line with global best practices, and that it would not succumb to such blackmail.

“The PSP operators are being used by those fighting against the reforms the government is putting in place. The Cleaner Lagos Initiative is part of the measures to fight institutional corruption in the system which the government is determined to eradicate.

“The government will not be blackmailed into abandoning the right thing for the people. Overtime, the Lagos State Government has carried out reforms in the Police Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LATSMA), among others and the State Government is committed to ensuring that the corruption in the waste management system is stamped out.

“Any PSP operator henceforth caught will be dealt with using the full weight of the law. No government will fold its arms and allow few vested interests whose interests are inimical to the majority of the people and aimed at sabotaging government’s policies and programmes to have a field day,” he said.