Whereas indications are becoming clear that the age long Private Sector Participatory (PSP) approach in dealing with waste management in Lagos State is becoming out of date and grossly ineffective, it is important to look at the new model being canvassed by the Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
The current arrangement is highly cumbersome- LAWMA in its role as regulator is expected to coordinate the activities of 350 individual companies and still carry out its own collection services. Revenue generation is extremely difficult due to the disparity and discrepancy of charges and collection routes which made the billing system unduly complicated and open to fraud.
Besides, it is very clear that filth management is one big challenge that developing countries in Africa and other emerging economies across the world are still contending with.
In India, Bangladesh, Africa and parts of South America, the menace of dirty environment and the health hazard it poses to humanity remain a huge puzzle most governments have yet to unravel. In Europe and most of North America, waste management has transited into an economic asset, where scientific conversion and recycling of human and industrial waste into reusable properties has become huge industry.
But in Nigeria, nearly all the states of the federation are still battling some monumental filth in major streets, markets and other public places.
But what is rather worrisome in most of these instances is the habit or culture of waste disposal by the citizens.
In states like, Lagos, Imo, Delta, Edo, Ondo, and Oyo among others, despite their increasing cosmopolitan status, recent experiences have shown that most residents are yet to imbibe the culture of modern waste disposal as huge garbage and other effluents are constantly being disposed indiscriminately around the streets especially when such people believe no one is watching to sanction them.
Recent studies on incessant flooding incidences recorded in the country revealed that much of these problems were traceable to the indiscriminate dumping of refuse on artificial water channels being blocked with household debris including biodegradable and solid waste that ordinarily should have been properly disposed of using modern technology. But in their attempt to redeem the situation, some states have also continued to develop elaborate strategies to tackle the menace to further make the environment more conducive for the citizens.
For Lagos state, successive administrations did launch a frontal war against filth in various locations across the state.
And as one of the most populous states in the country, there is indeed no gainsaying it that Lagos would need to make more elaborate arrangement to curtail the filth challenge if only to reinforce its claim as the nation’s centre of excellence, in addition to its status as Nigeria’s economic and industrial capital.
Experiences on how states have been managing filth in the country show that no government at whatever level has been able to bridge the huge infrastructural gap without the support of the private sector.
In Lagos for instance, as in other states, working with private sector operators to keep the streets free from filth has been on the card, but the structure of the partnerships has left some parties feeling cheated most times.
Only recently, the Cleaner Lagos Initiative started off with an extensive and sustainable waste management system in the government’s effort to maximise its potential in solid waste management with recycling, recovery and waste reduction efforts, liquid waste management, drainage management, and waste water treatment as part of the bargain. The scheme equally seeks to fully develop sufficient infrastructure for collection, proper processing and disposal of all waste to meet the state’s environmental objectives.
Feelers from the state government show that the scheme is looking at creating an enabling environment for the non-governmental agencies, the private sector and the government to harness international best practices in this vital area of infrastructure.
Explaining the new idea in solid waste management, the state’s Commissioner for Environment, Dr Babatunde Adejare said the objective of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative is to create value and empower those at the bottom of the value chain. This arrangement allows the ordinary citizens and residents of the state to be integrated into providing solution to environmental challenges by taking responsibility for their immediate environment while tackling the challenge of poor waste management in their communities.
With 27,500 Community Sanitation Workers in employment, the stakes are becoming higher as citizens now look forward to reaping benefits of a mass employment scheme such as this and the unprecedented effort to tie back directly to the Lagos State Government’s sustainability goals towards improving environmental and socio-economic conditions for its citizens.
Adejare added further that “While these jobs are important, the induced effect of higher spending power is where we hope to create about 400,000-500,000 jobs. These jobs are those generated as a benefit of the increased expenditures in the supply and distribution chains from the new employees spending more money in the general economy.”
“The efforts of the administration regarding employment for out of work youth who make up almost 50 percent of the entire Lagos population has been exemplary. The state hopes to ultimately drive job creation by developing opportunities in entirely new industries.
A thorough assessment of the current state of waste management infrastructure in Lagos, shows the state government acknowledges systemic failures and has started revising the legislative framework to harmonise the various laws on environment into a single law to allow for a more convenient administration of the law and management of the environment. There has also been an emphasis on putting in place an elaborate and standardised regulation on the environment of Lagos.
The Commissioner also noted that “Having set the legal groundwork, we adopted a holistic approach to addressing the unique problems of this mega city of 22 million people and designing a sustainable waste management system. In collaboration with the Ministries of the Environment, Justice, Urban and Physical planning, we have developed strategies for regulation, enforcement and most importantly financing to support the initiatives. Over the past 10 months, these efforts have been shaped into The Cleaner Lagos Initiative.
“The role of the PSPs in the restructuring of the waste management system in Lagos going forward will be to serve the commercial sector of the state.”
“The positive impact that PSPs efforts have had over the years on the Lagos landscape is undeniable. However, we cannot deny that we need a comprehensive waste management system that is world standard. Currently, we do not have an existing structure in place to support those endeavours.
Analysts say the emerging restructuring will benefit PSPs because the state plans to introduce new environmental policies and laws that not only protect the citizens and the environment but all waste management operators who painstakingly invest the resources into helping with clean-up of Lagos initiative.
Besides, the expected investment in the waste management will address the major challenge being faced by operators by ensuring that sanitary landfills are constructed across the state. Furthermore, the proposed environmental law requires all commercial entities to have a valid contract with a registered operator; these contracts will prove to be a valuable component for any serious-minded operator with sustainable plans for growth.
Lagos State Government is also working to creates new operational parameters, which will see the existing PSPs (private sector participants) working in the commercial and public sectors. The law makes new provisions that protect the interests of existing investments by requiring all commercial entities to have a valid and enforceable contract with a registered operator.
There are over 10,000 registered commercial businesses in Lagos so the PSPs are still very much relevant in waste stream management in Lagos State.
In a meeting with operators of PSP in the state, the Commissioner said “The safety and well being of the people of Lagos is a top priority for the Akinwunmi Ambode led government. We firmly believe in protecting and guaranteeing the basic human rights of the people. We are cognizant of the numerous challenges that have plagued the State when it comes to sanitation. When our administration took over, it was apparent to us that we needed to make determined efforts towards water, sanitation and hygiene.
Business Hilights recalls that ‘The Cleaner Lagos Initiative’ was established as an extensive and sustainable waste management system by the state government to maximise the state’s potential in solid waste management with recycling, recovery and waste reduction efforts, liquid waste management, drainage management, and waste water treatment. It also seeks to fully develop sufficient infrastructure for collection, proper processing and disposal of all waste to meet the state’s environmental objectives.
The first phase of the initiative, tackles solid waste management which is in a clear state of crisis due to the moribund supporting infrastructure that must be beefed up- bin placement, transfer loading stations, material recovery facilities and of course landfills.