How we are transforming the Lagos state waste management market– Adejare


December 18, 2017 | 12:56 am
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Samuel Babatunde Adejare, the Lagos state commissioner for environment met with journalists on Thursday, in Lagos, to explain the Cleaner Lagos initiative, a private sector led arrangement that has seen Visionscape Ltd emerge the primary waste management company in the state. The commissioner also explains how the newly enacted environmental law of the state is heralding serious reforms in waste management. ISAAC ANYAOGU was there with excerpts of the conversation.

You have started distributing bins in some locations in the state, are they free and if not, how are they being paid for?

Firstly, note that the bins are going to be distributed in phases, we will not distribute throughout Lagos at once. The payment is by a Public Utility Levy (PUL). When we were starting this Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), one of the things we had to do was to take our existing law back to the Lagos State House of Assembly and we got back a new law.

We now have a comprehensive law that deals with all environmental issues. Part of the thing we did with that law was to make sure that we remove the bottle necks from the way the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) does business with private operators. The law stated that we should all pay PUL. It depends on your tenement. We did this so that our people whatever their social status will not suffer to pay PUL.

Some of this people, who live in single-room apartment, based on their area, will pay and it will be divided into units of rooms in the building, so they will be paying less than what they are paying now. But if you are a rich man and living in a three thousand square meter mansion, you will pay more. So in a way, we are making it possible for all of us to look after each other.

We are all going to pay, nobody can say they are not generating waste; it is part of living so everybody will pay. We will bill everybody so the issue of ‘I am not paying’ will be out of it because your house will pay. We will have street managers, who will manage each apartment. I am confident that people will pay once good service is given to them.

How soon will people in Lagos feel the impact of Cleaner Lagos Initiative?
They have started feeling the impact already, it’s just that most of the equipment to be used are not manufactured in Nigeria, and they have to be brought it, which is unfortunate. This takes time. It is a huge project, there is no way we will not spend up to $500m on the project. To buy a new compactor alone is about N40m and we are talking about 500 new compactors and these are things you don’t buy off the shelf, it is when you need it they will start to manufacture it. Those pink-headed dustbins you see on the roads, it’s a way of sensitising our people.

My principal said let us distribute it all over Lagos, let’s see the reaction of our people to it, let’s get this culture of disposing the waste in our hands in a proper place, let’s try and throw up that culture among our people and I am happy to tell that our people have started imbibing this culture. Those bins, people are using them now.

When we came in, there were laws already in place, including against littering but we could not enforce them because our principal stopped us from enforcing them saying we have no moral justification to say we are going to go after them when we have not provided the bins.

And it is not that the previous governments have not provided bins, our people have misused the bins. Some of them went away with it to manufacture some other things. But now we are not going to allow it, those bins are being tracked, if you touch them, we are going to come after you.

Tentatively, by the beginning of the new year, we will start rolling out massively and people will feel us the more, but it will take a little more time to key into all these things. We are still in a transition period.

Visionscape has embarked on massive clean up of wastes in city centres and roads, areas marked as black spots, how are you preventing people from littering the sites that have already been cleared?

There are some sites that we will not do anything about now, because the system is evolving so we have to find a way to manage it but when the system is fully evolved, there won’t be any reason for anybody to go and dump waste anywhere.

In the past, people were dumping waste illegally because they were dodging paying the Private Sector Participants (PSP) operators, but the PUL has eliminated that. Whether you dump refuse or not, you will pay the charges. I know they will be comfortable putting the waste in front of their houses, as bins will be distributed to them. There will also be waste police in reflective jackets, they are there to caution people and monitor compliance.

Are there plans to incorporate waste-to-power in this initiative as it is done in other parts of the world?

It is in the new embedded power project of the government, we will key this waste to power initiative into it. The way we see it, waste will be a sought after element to produce power because it is cheaper to generate power through waste and the technology to improve it is advancing every day. We are talking to the Americans and Isrealis and we are yet to finalise so I can’t give the date it will start.

What is the status of the dispute with the PSP operators, has the issues being resolved completely?

Change is the only constant thing in life. Change brought PSP to light under the government of Bola Tinubu to manage huge refuse dumps on roads in Lagos and he got people interested in solving the problem using the model.

When it started, the population of Lagos was probably around 10million but now, we are obviously more than 25 million in Lagos. We are still counting every hour about 80 people coming into Lagos state. We found out that the PSP system is no longer feasible, and cannot give us what we want in terms of solid waste management.

The governor is not interested in taking away people’s jobs, so even those doing it before, we encourage them to move up, we want them to come together, form a company, get the necessary equipment so they can to stand on their own and submit bids. We want to do things professionally as it is done elsewhere.

In the beginning they didn’t understand what we were saying and we know there will be resistance to a change. We identified that the domestic part is the problematic part of the waste management; they don’t have enough tools, and technology to run it. Government cannot afford it, they cannot afford it too.

So many of them don’t even have compactors, they wait for others to finish and hire the compactors from them. That system is incapable of servicing us well, So we decided to get those with the best technology and best practice to manage it. The PSP can also participate, that is why we said we will only work with those with at least two compactors.

What about medical and other hazardous waste, is it part of the arrangement?

On medical waste, we just completed the bidding and those people that are going to do it have just emerged. We are not going to do it as it has been done before, you have to have the proper equipment, refrigerated compactors, that is what is used for medical waste. All these things we are making sure that these new people we have develop capacity.

In the whole west coast of Africa, we don’t have any hazardous waste collection point, we are going to have one in Ikorodu in Lagos which will take care of all hazardous waste from the construction to the petrochemical industry and only professionals will manage the process.


December 18, 2017 | 12:56 am
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