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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Lagos’ chance to join the league of world’s cleanest cities

By Gbenga Coker

One of the major challenges of cosmopolitan cities in the world is  environmental pollution. What invariably separates the men (clean cities) from the boys (filthy cities) is how  effective,  and even preemptive,  multiethnic  cities  are in managing their waste disposal processes. That is the bedrock of a clean society. For Lagos, with its titanicpopulation, coupled with  the  congested city  centres, which had given rise to satellite towns and slums,  the inability to maintain  statewide  pristine  environmental sanitation has been a serious clog in the wheel of progress.

Though attempts  were  made in the past by successive administrations in the  state  to tackle the problems headlong,  the  issue of proper waste disposal  and transformation of Lagos into  an immaculate environment,  proved a  hard nut to crack. The desire for a cleaner Lagos  pigheadedly remaineda mirage. While concerted efforts were made to make the state live up to its sobriquet, the Centre of Excellence,  by making its environment cleaner and serene, little result was achieved as  Lagos state continued to expand  to accommodate itsgrowing population.

The waterways and canals had been turned into  dumpsites, while  the ugly sight  of  people defecating openly into the  canals and drainages  became a  routine. Areas designated as  public parks and  open spaces,  were  turned to safe havens for criminals. All these  aberrations largely turned the state to an eyesore and  one of  the dirtiest in the country despite being the commercial nerve  centre, not only of Nigeria but the West  Africa  sub-region.

Apparently determined to reverse the  horrid  trend, the administration of  Asiwaju  Bola Ahmed  Tinubu  set up Kick  Against  Indiscipline (KAI) to ensure  a  neater and cleaner Lagos. With the establishment of KAI, it became an offence to litter the environment and failure to properly dispose waste was no longer tolerated. The  culture  of indiscriminate throwing of waste out of vehicles abated, as commercial vehicles were mandated to provide  wastebaskets.

Equally, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) was repositioned to offer quality and timely services in the area of waste disposal, while dumpsters were provided in major locations for the populace to dispose their waste.  The fear of  KAI officials and their mobile courtsbecame the beginning of wisdom for  Lagosians  who realized  that  failure  to  observe environmental norms  would henceforth have  dire consequences.

Lagos residents suddenly realized that the  task to keep  a tidier Lagos was no longer a joke.

In the area of environmental pollution, emission test on vehicles was introduced and made compulsory, while a great leap was achieved in curbing blockage of the waterways, drainages and canals with refuse. No doubt,  the steps by Lagos  towards  a  garbage-free environment were on a sound footing.

Consequently,  the  Babatunde  Raji  Fashola  (SAN) administration concentrated on the beautification of Lagos  landscape, with a view to creating  an aesthetic, serene and idyllic environment so that Lagos could wear the look it deserved.

Obviously determined to consolidate on  the efforts of his predecessors  in  actualising  a cleaner Lagos, the incumbent administration of  Akiwunmi  Ambode, decided to raise the ante with the inauguration of  the  Cleaner Lagos Initiative.

To bridge the lacuna and cater for the inadequacies that had  bedeviled  prior attempts by Lagos State to  achieve a cleaner environment,  Governor  Ambode  pushed and ensured necessary legal reforms (legislation) were  put in place. So,with  the new  Environmental Management and Protection Bill, passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, Kick  AgainstIndiscipline (KAI), will be transformed into the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps Agency.

This agency will spearhead enforcement of the stringent penalties imposed on defaulters. This bill, which has been accented to by  Ambode, would ensure, among others, that structures on sewage systems without approval  aredemolished, all commercial drivers have litter bins in their vehicles, enforce the ban on street trading as well as ensurethat residents obtain permits before sinking boreholes.

Meanwhile, when KAI officers are fully integrated into LASECORPS, the agency will be tasked with monitoring and maintaining surveillance along the highways, streets and public drainages, canals, markets and parks and will have the primary responsibility of ensuring that citizens  fulfill  their civic duty by paying the Public Utilities Levy- a property-based charge, payable by property occupants for the management of solid and liquid waste, wastewater and environmental intervention for Lagos State.

In the same vein, LASECORPS  will be supported by PUMAU (Public Utilities Monitoring Assurance Unit) a unit that will have oversight responsibility by using innovative monitoring tools to ensure the new standards are effectively enforced.

Depending on the nature of the offence,  defaulters of the  new  laws will face stiff penalties  ranging from N250,000  to N5,000,000 and/or imprisonment.  The state government has deliberately set a stringent penalty in order to discourage environmental misdemeanor and consciously navigate an attitudinal change towards acceptable ecological norms.  The  message is clear, mess up Lagos and pay  through the nose.

On the mandatory provision of litterbins in commercial vehicles, the law expressly says: “If the driver fails to provide the litter bin, the driver will also be penalized alongside the passenger or the occupier of the vehicle who commits the offence”.

On all illegal structures built on the sewage systems without approval,  the expressly stated  that  such structures will be demolished.

Also in the new law, anyone who wants to sink borehole or any structure connected with the supply of water must obtain permit from the office of drainage services.

Though, the new environmental bill was meant to ensure a cleaner Lagos, tackle air  and water pollution, prevent diseases and halt  the deterioration of the environment to avert advert effects  on socio-economic activities, the  attendant  benefit of creating about 27,500 new jobs for teeming  Lagosians,  will indeed be a welcome relief.

With this giant leap towards ensuring a  well protected  and dirt-free environment, Lagos, under the leadership of Ambode, despite  its  huge population  (human and vehicular),  is set to provide the best salubrious environment for Nigerians to live in.


The post Lagos’ chance to join the league of world’s cleanest cities appeared first on Vanguard News.

Vía Vanguard News

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