by Cyriacus Nnaji
For many, waste management in Lagos State has become an intractable cankerworm taking billions from state budgets, and suspiciously serving as conduit to make money for the boys.
Indeed many residents and visitors to the city fear that refuse might one day swallow Lagos up, yet they are quick to point accusing finger at the state government over their visionless contract with Visionscape.
“We are helpless, our streets are at the mercy of wastes, we cannot breath well from our environment,” says a resident who spoke in anonymity.
Recently statements were making the rounds that the Lagos State Government and Visionscape went into partnership with the local waste collection operatives, commonly known as Private Sector Participants (PSPs) which the latter have vehemently denied reaching a resolution with both parties. This is contrary to widely circulated statements by the Lagos State government’s waste management programme, Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), and the waste collection company, Visionscape.
The Chairman of the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria (AWMN), the registered body of waste collectors, Oladipo Egbeyemi, also accused the CLI and Visionscape of propagating falsehood and fabricating a quote attributed to him.
Problem in the state’s waste management sector started when the government sacked the PSP operators from collecting residential waste and replaced them with Visionscape. Visionscape, despite being highly recommended by the governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, however, struggled with the waste collection task, causing refuse to pile up on streets and major roads in the city.
Aggrieved at how they were kicked out of the residential waste collection business, the PSP operators sued the state government and Visionscape.
According to media reports, contrary to the claims by the state government and Visionscape, the waste management company has no pedigree in waste collection nor an international presence. The investigation also showed that the state government may have jettisoned due process in awarding the waste management contract to Visionscape. However, a media outfit, PREMIUM TIMES claimed it has received a statement from SA&B, a public relations firm, hired by Visionscape, declaring that the impasse has been resolved.
According to the statement titled “Waste wars end as Visionscape, PSPs agree on terms of operations”, both parties agreed on terms of operations “barely a week after the PSP operators opted to partner with Visionscape Sanitation Solutions to clear up the backlog of waste in the State.”
Quoting Hafis Kasumu, representative of Waste Collection Operators (WCO), the new name given to PSP operators by the CLI, the statement claimed that the partnership between both parties would yield results in the coming weeks.
“We have decided to support the government in the initiative to get rid of the waste. And also, to partner with Visionscape. So, it is a partnership and we are doing it together,” Mr Kasumu was quoted as saying
Another angle has I that Lagos State Government reinstated all the waste management operators known as PSP operators.
In a press release the decision to reinstate the operators came at a meeting held at the Ministry of the Environment chaired by the Special Assistant on Environment under the directives of His Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to reinstated all PSP operators and urged them to go back to their various previous areas of operation.
The operators were also tasked to operate under some conditions which state PSP operators are to take care of domestic waste with zero cost to the members of public, this includes waste from living premises, institutions like schools, hospitals excluding medical waste while major roads will be taking care by Visionscape.
Also the PSP Operators are still in charge of commercial waste and service charge must pay by consumers to PSP operators.
Another condition is that Visionscape/CLI are to pay PSP operators for refuse collected from domestic premises to dump site after 15days with one year contract agreement and also to be reviewed after a year onward.