Waste Infrastructure Development in Lagos Defies Odds

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Efforts by the Lagos State government to find a lasting solution to the waste management crisis in the state does not seem to be yielding much result just yet as some aggrieved members of the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria (AWAM), have refused to back down or compromise their demands.

The seeming stalemate is threatening to undermine the advancement that the state government has made since last year when the Environmental Management and Protection bill was passed into Law. The law empowered government to concession critical aspects of the waste management infrastructure to VisionScape, a multinational waste management company.

Following the passage into law of the Environmental Management and Protection Law passed, which liberalized the industry and allowed the government to concession critical aspects of the waste management infrastructure, VisionScape has concentrated on infrastructural reforms and modernizing the waste management process in Lagos, and bringing it up to speed with global best practices.

Within a space of one year, the multinational waste management company has monbilised the needed capital to replace degraded and rundown infrastructures with modern equipment powered by well-trained and highly motivated work force.

According to the Lagos State Government, the reform which gave birth to VisionScape was a child of necessity. The restructurings were demanded for by operators who felt the old system didn’t offer adequate solution to the waste management needs in Lagos and therefore needed to be modified.

The concerned operators wanted landfills as opposed to dumpsites, transfer loading stations to improve service delivery and turnaround time. They also demanded for a Ward level Sanitation program that would simultaneously provide low income jobs and ensure daily cleansing of drains, streets and laybys.

But more importantly, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode wanted a change in the waste management system in Lagos because the industry- valued at an annual value of N10billion, held huge economic potential and with capacity to create thousands of jobs. The Governor has insisted that such an important industry cannot be left in the hands of non-professionals but must be modified to maximize its service delivery and economic potential.

But despite the good intentions of the Governor and the progress that has been made in the last one year, some of the members of the association of waste managers of Nigeria (AWAM) have refused to be appeased. It seemed like nothing but a reversal of the whole process will be acceptable to them.

Some of them have resorted to violent tactics in order to achieve their demands.  So there have been reports of staff of VisionScape coming under attack or repeatedly being jeered at by “area boys” in certain areas of Lagos.

But Ambode has remained undaunted promising to press on with the reforms in spite of the opposition.