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EXCLUSIVE: Despite Sanitation — Lagos, Ibadan Contest For Most Dirtiest State

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Ionigeria investigative Journalist — Gbenga Odunsi — in this exclusive piece, monitored the efforts of the Lagos and Oyo State governments in improving the public health status through maintenance of good hygiene and environmental sanitation for clean atmosphere. His findings revealed that both States — in spite of environmental laws and agencies — battle filth and stench; lazy and corrupt sanitary inspectors; indiscriminate dumping of refuse; and a possible outbreak of infectious diseases.

In 1973, the United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set aside 5th June each year as World Environment Day (WED) to solve environmental problems like global warming, deforestation and food shortages amongst many others.

Measured as one of the top yearly events, the day aims at raising awareness about the leading difficulty of environmental sustainability. But regardless of efforts by both the federal government and state ministries of environment, some states in Nigeria have vowed to remain dirty.

In 2015, the World Bank reported that 94% of the population in Nigeria is exposed to air pollution levels that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines (compared to 72% on average in Sub-Saharan Africa in general) and air pollution damage
costs about 1% post of Gross National Income.

 Welcome To Ibadan — The Dustbin City

Obvious fear of an imminent outbreak of infectious diseases has struck the residents of Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State as main streets in the ancient city have been taken over by heaps of refuse.

One issue that Ibadan was renowned for from time past was its filthy state, owing to its bad refuse management. The filth was so devastating that the pace-setter city was tagged one of the dirtiest in Nigeria and Africa.

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Investigations revealed that main markets where food and provisions are being sold were not left out of the filth contest. A stopover at Oja-oba, Bere- Oje, Bodija, and Aleshinloye markets evinced that both the residents and relevant government agencies were culpable of negligence of duty and responsibility.

At the aforementioned markets, principally, Oja-oba and Oje markets, heaps of dotted the nooks and crannies of the markets as both buyers and sellers carried out their businesses in peace.

Recall that the intensive effort by the Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi in giving Ibadan a face-lift during his first term in office was influential to his success at the 2015 governorship election where he broke the age-long second term jinx in the state. It was, however, gathered that the government literarily went to sleep, without delay, winning the Guber election in 2015 as the adornment sites across the length and breadth of the city have become ramshackle barely two years after completion of work.

Investigation further revealed that many of the environmental workers, while clearing the heaps of refuse habitually constitute themselves to public pest as they always beg for money from passers-by hibernating under the pretext of government’s failure to pay them as and when due.

It was further gathered that the sanitary inspectors who should be arresting insolent residents are compromised. It was gathered that they rarely go out on inspection these days; and when they do, it is usually not for humanitarian reasons. 

According to most of the respondents, the major concern is premised on the fact that marketplaces such as Oja-oba, Bodija, Sango, and others are not spared of the waste, which emits heavy odour and constitutes health risk to the customers who frequent such markets.

 Lagos — Filth, Stench, Eyesore Decorates The Mega City

Repeatedly referred to as Nigeria’s industrial nerve center, Lagos state is one of the most inhabited states in Nigeria, a situation which has stretched its infrastructures such as housing, health care, roads and waste management system beyond limits. The ensuing effect is the rise of suburbs, slums and ghettos with the poorest environmental conditions within the state.

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Regardless of the activities of the Visionscape Eco Park, residents still deposit waste in drainages and canals in the state which leads to obstruction of the waterway.

Malaria attacks have become the common and recurrent health complaints by inhabitants due to mound of filth, parasites continuously feed on uncleared drains and escalating heaps of hogwash wastes dotting the megacity.

Ojuelegba hosts some of the eyesores, with mountains of refuse spilling and almost covering the entrance of a building opposite a commercial bank in the area.

A resident, Seun Adegbola, described the situation as intolerable. He lamented that he had spent a huge amount of money treating malaria and infection in the past months.

According to him, the mosquitoes even defy insecticides, consequently causing her misery and mental trauma in addition. “I have spent a lot in buying Raid insecticide in the last two months. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t kill these mosquitoes anymore, because of the refuse dumped in front of my compound,” Seun said.

Ojuelegba is merely a case study of a general malaise. In the past two or three months, the disgusting sight and stink of solid wastes have returned to many parts of the city, thereby dubbing the megacity as the Centre of Filth.

The condition is worse in Aguda, Surulere, residents try to avoid stepping on refuse, which littered either side of the road while going about their daily business. A business woman in the area, Theresa Edem, complained that she had started losing customers because of the rambling mess by the side of her shop.

According to her, officials of the Visionscape had not visited the area in the last one month.

The story is similar at the popular Volks bus stop on Lagos-Badagry Expressway. A food vendor in the area, known as Vicky doing business amid a ‘swamp’ of sleaze, said even though she knew it was not healthy to cook and sell food in such environment, she had no choice, but to continue, as it was her only source of livelihood.

Vicky regretted that the mound of refuse kept mounting by the day, because the appropriate agencies meant to pack them, seemed to have forgotten that area of Lagos.

Pathetically, the same apathy is given the muddled ‘mountain’ at the popular Obalende roundabout with passersby covering their noses as they hurry past to board buses at the various motor parks in the area.

Mushin Agege Moto Road, Ishaga, Lawanson, Ojuelegba, LASU-Isheri road, amongst others is the numerous locations with a huge refuse dump in Lagos.

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In the interim, efforts of the state in ensuring appropriate management of waste has started yielding outcomes with the commencement of work at the Visionscape’s Eco Park in Epe. As one of the structures designed to package the over 13,000 tonnes of waste daily generated in Lagos, stated to be the largest in the globe.

Lagos Government t re-engineering waste management with Visionscape

Reacting, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, in a statement posted on his Facebook page, assured residents that the state government had commenced action to address the situation.

He said: “The greater story is that 27,500 street sweepers are now hitting the streets. Compactors are now at work all over the city as I write. They are evacuating refuse all night. Considering that refuse is generated every minute by 22 million people, it is going to be a Herculean task. But trust this government; the battle to rid our medians of filth will be executed with tenacity.

“Nine trucks just rolled out of the Agege Transfer Loading Station under the supervision of group 4 to cover the following areas: Moshalasi to Mosan Okunola, Agbotikuyo to Akowonjo, Moshalasi to Isheri, Egbeda to Akowonjo, Isheri roundabout to Ikotun, Isheri roundabout to Igandoand oke koto to Iyana Ipaja …Also, two compactors have been assigned to Iyana Ipaja bus stop and another two compactors from Igando to LASU Iba junction. Both sides of the roads will be cleared.”

Efforts to get reactions from the Oyo State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Isaac Ishola proved abortive as several calls and text messages to his line went unanswered as at the time of filing this report.

About Gbenga Odunsi

Writer, Investigative Journalist, and Social Media Strategist

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