Lagos State Opposition party, the Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has charged private refuse disposal operators with gross irresponsibility and asked the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State House of Assembly to bar them from dragging Lagosians to court over unpaid garbage bills.
The party charged Private Sector Participants (PSPs) and Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) with dereliction in their duties, as they rarely showed up as scheduled, with patrons often waiting in vain for overflowing litter sacks and dustbins to be evacuated.
“Forcing people to pay for services not rendered is daylight robbery. PSP operators want to reap where they have not sown. Due to their negligence, Lagos is losing the battle against filth simply because these crucial foot-soldiers in the battle, LAWMA and PSP operators, will fail to show up. Yet they have the temerity to resort to the law courts to make bogus claims for services barely rendered,” DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.
Also, DPA asked the Lagos Legislature to hold a well-publicised public hearing that will bring all stakeholders together with a view to making PSP operators sit up. It urged the Assembly to convince the state to streamline the activities of truck-pushing waste disposers instead of outlawing them; to evolve a system where patrons and operators can agree on payment for actual refuse cleared; to seriously consider refuse disposal as a government responsibility to be discharged free of charge to citizens.
Meanwhile, the party urged law court judges to throw out waste-disposal cases and refuse to grant fines, saying the Judiciary must play its historical role as the last hope of the common man.
According to the party, in Gbagada area of Lagos, where PSP operators were scheduled to clear refuse twice a week, they managed to do it bimonthly (once in two months), only to slam tenants with a court summons. The same thing happened in Palm Avenue area of Mushin where the dump vehicle would come once a month instead of twice a week.
LAWMA, a PSP operator called B and B Environmental Services and others had abandoned their duties in Papa Ajao, Otto-Awori, Ajasa Command, Ijede area of Ikorodu, according to Lagos DPA quoting a Saturday radio phone-in proramme.
DPA warned that poor sanitary conditions would enhance the menace of flooding in Lagos as desperate tenants usually resorted to dumping waste in flowing drain water.
The party also flayed the government for failing to seize the opportunity of the dry season to implement effective deflooding, saying this had led to a recurrence of last year’s devastating deluge in metropolitan Lagos, especially in places like Ikorodu Road, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Maryland, Apapa-Tin-Can Expressway, Apapa-Badagry Expressway, Oworonshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge, Kirikiri, Lawanson, LUTH-Idiaraba, Liasu Road and Ejigbo.
The party counseled that local governments should take up the task of clearing refuse from the drainage.
In addition, the party reiterated its usual position that the state must consider picking up the bills for refuse management and stop commercialisation of waste disposal by PSP operators.
“It is a health issue,” the party said. “We will be averting an epidemic waiting to happen if people dispose refuse free of charge as cost-free refuse disposal will discourage people who see running flood water as opportunity for cheap waste disposal.”
Furthermore, the party deduced: “Sometimes, we want to insist on charging for such services because that is what obtains abroad, while we forget that those communities began by erecting the necessary structures that would facilitate easy clearance. For example, abroad, dump trucks drive up to the front-door to pick up rubbish. But over here, where are the roads for such heavy-duty vehicles, yet the government goes ahead to ban truck-pushers?”