A new twist into the dispute between the Lagos State Government and private waste operators began on Sunday as a new group of waste collectors berated their colleagues for refusing to cooperate with the government.
The group, the Concerned Stakeholders of Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria, condemned a statement by the Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria distancing their members from media reports of a dispute resolution with the government and Visionscape Sanitation Solutions.
The association, a group of about 350 Private Sector Participant (PSP) operators, had on Saturday stated that media reports about a settlement of a dispute with the government were “misleading and untrue.”
Oladipo Egbeyemi, the chairman, accused the government of employing divide-and-rule tactics by inviting some of their members to a meeting on a day scheduled for their court hearing.
In their statement on Sunday, the concerned stakeholders said their colleagues, whom they described as “aggrieved stakeholders” were not only acting in bad taste but had shown that they care less about the interest of Lagosians.
The new group, comprising of 48 PSP operators said their resolve to work with the state government to ensure the success of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) was borne out of the genuine desire to protect the environment and prevent the outbreak of an epidemic in the state considering the resurgence of refuse in public places.
“This kind gesture was warmly received and accepted by the government, but to the surprise of many, a group believed to be aggrieved from AWMN, has come out to disown us for offering a helping hand, you must ask why? Are they angry with progress? Are they people-oriented at all? Is this challenge a thing of pride and ego to them or service to the people?” Kasumu Olasehinde of Gafista Concepts Limited said on behalf of the new group.
“We have been rendering unequalled outstanding waste management service to Lagosians for decades and it is the state of things that necessitated our group’s initiative to offer help and also collaborate with Visionscape. The Visionscape group sees us as partners who will learn a lot from each other and they are willing to collaborate with us to make Lagos clean.
“We also state that the wellbeing of Lagosians is utmost in our mind, and as we approach the raining season, we cannot just watch but also intervene to avoid epidemic, which is what the aggrieved group does not care about.
“We can’t afford to let the Cleaner Lagos initiative fail, because if it does, we will also be considered as failure, hence a need to take responsibility as a people-oriented group to render service whether paid or unpaid; laudable to say the least and quite commendable and any progressive would agree with my group,” Mr. Olasehinde said.
Throughout last year, the private waste operators and the Lagos State government were engaged in a legal battle after the former dragged the government to court for terminating their services.
The Lagos State government had passed a new environmental law that contracted the collection of residential waste in the state to a concessionaire, the Dubai-based Visionscape Group.
Last week, the concessionaire sought the help of the PSP operators in evacuating the heaps of refuse that had begun to overwhelm the metropolis.
In his statement, Mr. Olasehinde said it was surprising that some of their members who had benefited from change are now working against “progressive change” and also attempting to discourage those who were genuinely willing to help the government in the best interest of the people.
He further said there was no existing agreement between the state government and PSP operators, and wondered why some aggrieved members were working against the government.
“Change is inevitable, other aggrieved operators can collaborate to deliver service with Visionscape without making drama out of it,” he said.
“It should be a collective joy to see people of Lagos living in comfort, you don’t wish failure on a vendor because you feel you can do better, and finally, it is unruly to attempt to pour cold water on the bravery and courage of the noblemen who tried to swallow hurts and offer help. If we all contribute something, Lagos will work for us all by default.”
While standing by the resolve of the stakeholders to work with government, Mr. Olasehinde commended the state government for coming up with the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, saying the policy and the law promulgated to back it up would proffer a permanent solution to waste management in the state.
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