The Lagos State government has denied claims that it was planning to replace the private waste operators in the state with a new, foreign investor.
Babatunde Adejare, the Commissioner for Environment, said Wednesday that the government would only restrict them to commercial customers and businesses while the foreign investor would focus on residential areas.
“In September 2016, the proposed concept of operations was unveiled at a stakeholder’s meeting presided over by Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode personally in which it was explained that LAWMA would no longer be working as an operator and would be taking on its regulatory role while the residential waste collection and the supporting backbone will be concessioned to foreign investors,” Mr. Adejare said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES.
“All the challenges concerning the landfills and the transfer loading stations would be addressed through this arrangement.
“The PSP operators were made to understand that the new operational plan allows them to compete within zones for the 10,000 commercial customers and businesses that operate within the city.
“They were also briefed that the funds allegedly being owed would be addressed through a recertification and revalidation process (commencing February 2017). They were additionally urged to form strategic partnerships that will give them the numeric strength and capabilities to compete under a competitive integrated system.”
The private waste operators (or Private Sector Participants, PSP, operators) had accused the state government of planning to replace their operations by inviting a foreign investor specialised in waste management.
On Tuesday, the PSP operators filed a suit urging a high court in Lagos to order the government to halt its plans.
Listed as defendants in the suit were the Lagos State government; the Attorney-General of the state; the Commissioner for the Environment and the proposed foreign operators and their local agents.
According to the operators, they helped Lagos State to rid the state of refuse spanning several years of investments in human and material resources, which also involved professional trainings and education.
The PSP operators, comprising over 350 members, asked the court to restrain any foreign operator and their local agents from taking over collection, disposal, and management of domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State.
‘A Cleaner Lagos Initiative’
But according to Mr. Adejare, the state government has embarked on a ‘Cleaner Lagos Initiative’ and would not do anything that is not in the collective interest of the people of the state.
“We are all cognizant of the numerous challenges that have plagued our sanitation system in the state, and the call for an urgent and intelligent solution to the perennial problem, which has not only had destructive impact on our environment, health and lives,” Mr. Adejare said.
“To address this, our administration took a decision and determined efforts towards water, sanitation and hygiene in the state.
“To activate this in a manner that protects and guarantees the rights of the people, we started the Cleaner Lagos Initiative with a Stakeholder Engagement Programme. Over the last 10 months, we have taken a holistic approach to identifying the unique problems, and have focused on creating a framework for a sustainable integrated waste management system”.
“We sought and obtained executive council approval to carry out a full review in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice. We put the existing laws and policies under a microscope, reviewed them to reflect that sanitation becomes a high-priority activity in the state and is treated as a non-negotiable requisite in Lagos.
“Consequently, we came up with strategies for regulation, enforcement and most importantly financing, to support the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, which was birthed from the results of this process.”
Lagos currently generates 14,000 metric tons (about 490 trailer loads) of wastes daily, according to the Lagos Waste Management Authority.
The ‘Cleaner Lagos Initiative’ was created as an extensive and sustainable waste management system for Lagos to maximize the state’s potential in solid waste management with recycling, recovery and waste reduction efforts, liquid waste management, drainage management, and waste water treatment.
The initiative also seeks to fully develop sufficient infrastructure for collection, proper processing and disposal of all waste to meet the state’s environmental objectives.
Last week, during a three-day training workshop for LAWMA officials, the government announced it would introduce new reforms to make the agency more efficient.
Part of the reforms include a cancellation of the current 60-40 arrangement between LAWMA and the PSP operators whereby the agency collects waste bills on behalf of the operators and remit 60 percent to them.
Olumuyiwa Adejokun, the LAWMA chairman, said customers would now make their waste payments directly to the PSP operators.
Instead of remitting 40 per cent of their income to LAWMA, the PSP operators would merely be paying a regulatory fee of 1.5 per cent of revenue.
“Government does not have the huge funds required to manage waste in the state, this is why the governor has decided to embark on waste management reform,” Mr. Adejokun said.
“The state government does not have the fund to operate waste management. I can tell you that it costs huge millions to manage waste in Lagos. And that was why we have thrown the business open to investors whom we believe will help in managing waste in Lagos State.
“It is better for LAWMA to step aside in the bill issuance and concentrate on regulation of the PSP operators in the state. By doing this, they will be able to sanction any operator that fails in its duties.”