In the last few weeks, many markets across Lagos State have been locked and opened by the Ministry of Environment and the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). There is no gainsaying that these markets are due for closure. However, what next after the re-opening of the markets?
One of the places in town synonymous with huge refuse generation is the markets. Many times, markets are considered to belong to nobody; as such, traders want their immediate environment habitable for their businesses, and at the close of the day, they “drop” the byproducts of their wares somewhere, mainly on the roadside by the huge refuse collector and head to their various abodes.
Yes, we will not, but blame the traders for not doing the appropriate thing. However, with the recent strategic move of the Ministry of Environment and LAWMA, everybody will know that it is no more business as usual. You have to take full responsibility for your environment, or else, the state will deal with you.
However, there needs to be a pivotal strategy by the government to ensure that refuses do not become a menace for the traders, with the campaign on Circular Economy and how to achieve this. It is time to really put this into action for the good of every Lagosian.
The Lagos State Government and LAWMA need to design a model of evacuation of refuse to these markets so that there would be seamless management. For instance, Mile 12 markets, wherein groceries are sold at the open market, will always have perishable items. There is a need for the government to know if this waste can be used to nourish the soil or even made into consumables for livestock. If this is done, there will be a significant drop in wastage that we currently face as a nation.
At the moment, there are some peculiar markets, Computer Village and Alaba, Aswani and Yaba, with products that the world is still grappling with the best way of handling its waste; these are the largely electronic-related-waste and clothes. We do not have a model that will resolve waste, and it has become expedient to know how to fix this challenge too.
The peculiarity of each market will determine what will be done to ensure that we get the best out of the waste produced daily. So, we need to develop a strategy for markets that deal in motor parts, fashion, and accessories, pieces of furniture, metals, amongst others.
I would also want to drum up support for the state government’s action. As a result of the import-dependent nature of the Nigerian economy, many traders have had the opportunity to travel to nations wherein they import their wares and also gone on pilgrimage either to Jerusalem or Saudi Arabia. The famous saying, “Opopo Mecca mo roro”, means the streets of Mecca are sparkling clean. However, we all enjoy making our roads stink.
With the level of Government investment in LAWMA and the franchisees located across the state, there are still insufficient waste truck collectors that can serve these markets daily, and that is why the level of waste keeps growing geometrically and the unending competitive need for the services of these waste collectors from the residential areas to the commercial areas. This might warrant the closure of the commercial spaces every week because of the attendant waste.
The LAWMA Summer Academy for children needs to be infused into the curriculum for students of Lagos State so that we can begin to catch them young. If the content of the training is made available to children through the classroom, they will, in turn, educate their parents, and this will lead to attitudinal change in the community at large.
Beyond the sanctions on residential and commercial areas on issues of waste management, a stakeholder forum on effective waste management for a mega city like Lagos needs to be organized so that we can take lessons that will turn our waste into wealth.
The game is not over, the advocacy is not over, and the attitudinal change should really begin now across all societal strata so that our Lagos can also receive accolades for being one of the cleanest states in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Olutayo Irantiola, PR Consultant, Creative Writer and Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos, Nigeria. He blogs on www.peodavies.com, and can be reached on +234 806 429 4834