Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu on Wednesday warned the Private Sector Participants (PSP) operators in waste management to desist from allowing themselves to be used to sabotage the new environmental policy of the Lagos State Government encapsulated in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).
Speaking against the backdrop of some PSP operators arrested for dumping waste on main streets across the state, Akiolu said the development was unfortunate and that it was important to caution them not to destroy Lagos in an attempt to discredit the new waste management regime.
The monarch also warned residents of the state against dumping refuse in public places, saying the CLI is for the benefit of all and called for support for Visionscape in a bid to rid the state of refuse.
Akiolu spoke at a Town Hall meeting to sensitise market women and others on the CLI project and the need to ensure a cleaner environment. The event was held at the City Hall on Lagos Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
According to him, Lagosians should ensure that the state was not littered with refuse, warning that he would not beg for anybody who is arrested by the state government for dumping refuse in unauthorised places.
Akiolu said he learnt that 13 people had been arrested for dumping refuse in unauthorised places, adding that Lagosians should desist from such act, but rather bagged their waste and put them in places where Visionscape would cart them away.
The monarch said the state government had put in place mechanism to deal with waste in the state, saying that this kind of enlightenment programme would also be carried out in other parts of the state.
He further urged Lagosians not to patronise cart pushers as some of them hide arms in their carts to wreck havoc, as well as dump such refuse in inappropriate places.
He said: “I was in security service for thirty-two years, most of these miscreants, armed robbers used to hide their guns, live ammunition under these carts used for carting away refuse but with the initiative of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, things are going to be better. We are going to have a cleaner Lagos provided we have 100 percent citizenry cooperation, which is very necessary.
“That is why I had to come out today to come and talk to all of them. Lagos has started to grow better and bigger. All the market women have to cooperate. I have told them to stop living in the markets. It is only mad people that live in the markets. That is not in our culture,” he said.
Also speaking, Commissioner for the Environment, Babatunde Durosimi-Etti warned residents to stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse in unauthorized places, saying that perpetrators would face the full wrath of the law, including engaging communal service as a form of deterrence.
The Commissioner reassured that the new solid waste management system was well thought out and positioned to offer an enduring solution to the waste management challenge thrown up by population increase and facility deficit that the State has had to encounter overtime.
He said the PSP operators could not cope with the huge refuse being generated in Lagos currently as the population kept growing, saying that they did not have the equipment to cope, especially with the rise in foreign exchange.
According to him, this was what informed the Ambode administration to get a new consortium, Visionscape to handle domestic waste in the state, while the PSP operators would now handle commercial waste.
Durosimi-Etti appealed to Lagosians to bag their waste properly so that refuse would not litter the streets, urging them to report people seen dumping refuse in unauthorised places to government for prompt action.
The Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Folasade Tinubu-Ojo said Lagos had always been a role model to other states of the country, charging the market women to contribute their quota to make Lagos cleaner and better than it was before.
He called on Visionscape and the government to provide market women with thicker waste carriers so that they could bag their waste properly, assuring that the market women would cooperate to make Lagos clean and embrace CLI.
Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government, Prince Adetoyosi Olusi also appealed to people on the Island to embrace the culture of bagging their waste and dumping them in designated places where Visionscape would cart them away.
He called for the ban of scavengers across the state as their activities normally lead to littering the environment.