The jury is still out on the fate that would befall the controversial multimillion dollar, Visionscape deal with Lagos State now that its lead proponent, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, will not be returning for a second term. Conceived as the brightest, revolutionary idea to reform the established waste management processes for a megalopolis like Lagos, there was the need for the issue of waste to be properly addressed because waste needs storage (bins), aggregation (transfer loading stations), processing (material recovery/recycling) and proper disposal (engineered sanitary landfill).
Then, the best brains in the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, identified that private sector financing would be needed to bridge the gap between what government had been able to provide and what was necessary for the future. Consequently, the state government in 2017 awarded contracts to the Dubai-based Visionscape Sanitations Solutions limited and its strategic partners for deployment of waste management infrastructure but at what insiders allege was a huge cost.
According to the terms of agreement, the Accountant General’s office was mandated to implement the monthly remittance of the gross sum of NGN713,700,000 as a first line charge from the revenue account of the Lagos State Government which commenced in June 2017 and terminates in June 2027.
This Irrevocable Standing Payment Order translates to N8.56 billion as guarantees for the bond and about N85 billion over the 10-year timeline. That is the basic, official charge.
Lagosians cried blue murder. Ambode’s political leaders, some of who were adversely affected by the cancellation of the contracts with the more effective Private Sector Participants (PSP) waste managers, sought Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s intervention. When the heat of the Visionscape deal became too hot for Tinubu considering that many assumed he was in cahoots with the state government on the deal, he promised to speak with the governor and quipped philosophically, “If it is not broken, don’t fix it.” Alas, Visionscape, despite all its fanciful mini waste disposal trucks, the colourful aprons of its staff, and multimillion dollar investments, could not deal with the mammoth wastes in Lagos. Soon, Lagos became a euphemism for dirt. Everywhere you turned in the state, heaps of dirt with the concomitant reproduction of vermin, became a common sight. Lagos was back to its pre-1999 days. And Ambode’s political fate was sealed therefrom.
But Ambode is not the only one to rue the fate that may befall this deal. For Niyi Makanjuola, the young brains behind Visionscape, reality must have started biting real hard now. He is, however, consoled by the fact that there is a caveat, a fine of sort that Lagos State stands to pay Visionscape a horrifying, gasp-inducing N50billion if it defaults. Would the presumptive new governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, continue with the deal or risk the consequences and terminate the deal for the greater benefit of Lagosians?