In Nigeria, waste disposal is a big challenge as a result of the ever growing population estimated to be in excess of 160 million people. Nigeria’s high population generates large quantities of waste to the tune of 3.2 million tonnes annually, and only 20-30% of it is collected. This has resulted in blockage of drainages, flooding and poor air quality etc. Most of these wastes are generated individually per household and in some cases, by artisans and local traders which litters the immediate surrounding and improper disposal of such wastes spreads across the major highway leading to an environmental catastrophe in the short run since the country currently lacks adequate budgetary provisions for the implementation of integrated waste management programmes across the states.
Lagos State is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, in terms of rural-urban migration and growing numbers of manufacturing industries with an estimated 12.4million inhabitants by 2015. This was a report prepared in 2012 and as I write, the population is well over 18 million people. No doubt this will help to grow the economy but only with a devastating effect on the environment as more waste is generated due to housing, trade volume, industries etc. According to the United Nations Habitat Watch, African city populations will more than triple over the next 40 years and as rightly posited that African cities are already inundated with slums; a phenomenon that could triple urban populations and spell disaster, unless urgent action is initiated today. It is pertinent to adopt stringent laws and waste management programmes that can meet the demand of the explosive population.
Municipal waste composed mainly of solid waste generated on a daily basis is a herculean task for the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) to manage alone, hence the need to engage the services of private waste firms and other franchisee to reduce the burden of waste collection by the Lagos State outfit.
In the Eti-Osa local government area of Lagos State where i reside, solid waste is not much of a problem as most households engage the services of the private waste franchise – alba Nigeria Ltd to dispose their waste. Unlike the densely populated mainland area of Lagos State where wastes are dumped indiscriminately on flood lines, gutters or a section of the market square, the island area is well planned for effective waste management collection; the major challenge here perhaps is flooding due to poor drainage. During the construction of buildings, trucks in their numbers offloads granite stones and plaster sand along the drainage way. The labourers transporting the building materials spread the content in the gutters and some are washed away when it rains, this gets compacted and mixed with other wastes to obstruct the flow of excess rain water thus leading to severe flooding.
As the late raining season approaches, the Lekki Resident Association has written to several houses to join forces in digging out the wastes that prevent easy flow of water. Even as more construction work is being carried out to develop the Lekki Peninsula Area, the problems of flooding and coagulation of waste materials persist since there are still undeveloped plots enmeshed in between buildings already occupied by residents. These challenges are somewhat daunting for the Association alone to deal with as there are no rules of engagements regarding construction activities within the metropolis. Some of the fenced lands have been gated under lock and key and this prevents the access of genuine efforts to clear the debris that pose a huge environmental challenge to the rest of the residents.
This is not to say that the ghetto area of Lekki Peninsula does not suffer some degree of improperly disposed waste, as is visible during a visit to the creek areas shielded away from the preying eyes of the public. In this regard, the government needs to review and renew its effort at making Lagos State a mega city with its first call on developing the Lekki-free trade zone and its environs; by putting in place a lasting solution to the existing waste challenges.
According to the Senate Chairman on environment and ecology. He said the government is working on good sustainable waste management as they recently commissioned a Pilot Plastic Recycling/compost making plants in Ekiti and Kano and that plans are on the way to build more in other states within the 2013 budget year. I do hope Lagos State is being considered among the beneficiaries with its soaring population and being the nation’s commercial hub. The advocacy at the Federal Government level has to be continued to encourage State Governments and the Private sector to collaborate with it in transforming wastes to wealth. There are enormous opportunities for wealth creation in this area.
Finally, the activities of the Environmental Health officers Registration Council of Nigeria needs to be monitored to determine how best the budget on the environment could be best utilized. Also, we need more trained Environmental Health officers to be deployed across the country, to monitor and enforce sanitation laws and improve public health.
—About Wale Bakare—
Wale Bakare is a writer and a social media enthusiast with strong affection for Agriculture, politics and the conservation of the environment. He has published works on numerous online blogs & Magazines. Wale writes for Bailiff Africa from Lagos, Nigeria and can be reached on Twitter at @waleflame and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.