A few days after PREMIUM TIMES published an expose detailing how the Lagos State Government replaced the local private sector participant (PSP) with Visionscape, a foreign waste management company with no record of waste management, the company has said it would yield waste collection to the private waste collectors.
A statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, signed by Paul Dada, the company’s Media Relations Manager, said Visionscape Sanitation Solution and PSP operators, now referred to as waste collection operators (WCO), have resolved to work together for the common good of the people of Lagos State.
The statement said that following months of negotiations, offers and counter offers, both parties have agreed terms of operations that brings the WCOs back into the system as residential waste collectors while Visionscape deepens its waste infrastructure contract.
It noted further that the resolution was also motivated by the recent fire outbreak at the Olusosun dumpsite, which emphasized the need for engineered landfills and standard waste infrastructure to avoid more environmental catastrophes.
The Lagos State Government had awarded the state refuse collection contract to Visionscape, saying the firm has what it takes to realise the state’s waste-to-wealth vision and manage the state’s waste effectively. The contract was awarded after the government terminated the services of the PSPs who were previously in charge of waste collection and management in the state.
But weeks after the governor’s self-assured statement about Visionscape’s capacity to rid the state of waste, it became evident that the company was struggling with the task. Heaps of refuse began to gather on streets and major roads across the city, raising the fear of the outbreak of an epidemic among residents. Overwhelmed by the volume of waste the state generates, Visionscape quietly re-engaged some private waste collectors.
A PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation published on April 2 later revealed that contrary to claims by the Lagos state government, Visionscape has no pedigree of waste management as the Lagos State contract was the first ever undertaken by the company. (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/263725-investigation-how-lagos-govt-sidelined-local-operators-for-foreign-company-with-no-experience-in-waste-collection.html).
The report also highlighted the controversies surrounding the collection of residential and commercial waste between Visionscape and the private waste collectors invited to partner with the company. The PSP operators had requested a larger role in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).
Days after the report was published, Visonscape said a new resolution that would address the issues between the firm and the PSPs has been reached.
The statement said the new agreement will increase the sphere of PSP operators beyond commercial to residential waste collection, where they will bill and service homes across the State.
Speaking on the new direction, the CEO of Visionscape Sanitation Solutions, John Irvine, noted that it was a welcome development as the new terms give the environmental utility company the opportunity to focus on, and construct, infrastructure that is vital to the success of any waste management reform.
He mentioned that Visionscape was already in control of three transfer loading stations and three vehicle maintenance depots, in addition to the ongoing construction of the first engineered landfill in West Africa in Epe, Lagos State.
He said the new arrangement will facilitate the accelerated development of more transfer loading stations, a biomass plant, recycling facility, waste to energy plants, landfill and dumpsite remediation and wastewater treatment infrastructure.
To ease some of the challenges experienced by the WCOs prior to the reform, he said, Visionscape also agreed to assist the WCOs in their operations.
“Sometimes you must compromise for the sake of the common good. We listened to all stakeholders, and our intentions were always to be part of a community,” Mr. Irvine said.
“Both sides understand each other’s aspirations, and have chosen to focus on our commonalities, put the controversy behind us and move forward collectively as a community.
“We will continue to support our partner operators with equipment and capacity upgrade for better collection and carry out interventions required to fill service gaps.”
The statement also quoted a representative of the WCOs, Hafis Kasumu,saying that they are ready to support the government.
“We have decided to support the government in the initiative to get rid of the waste. And also, to partner with Visionscape. So, it is a partnership and we are doing it together,” he said.
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