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Environment Sanwo-Olu

LAGOS, LAWMA AND THE BATTLE AGAINST FILTH

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By Bolaji Israel

The city of Lagos, with its ever-increasing population and bustling economic activities, faces significant environmental challenges. With the ever-growing influx of people from all over the country into Lagos daily in search for greener pasture, coupled with the volume of businesses, manufacturing, trading activities and human movements around the state, it is understandable that its environmental challenges would be humongous and multidimensional. Dirty markets, littered streets, blocked drainages due to indiscriminate waste disposal and plastic wastes and homeless miscreants squatting all around the state bridges, would readily have been the disgusting optics in the absence of proactive management and control. However, the state government, particularly the current administration, is sparing no efforts in its renewed bid to safeguard the environment and ensure a clean and healthy city for residents to live and thrive. Lagos, which has a population of over 20 million is projected to hit 32.6 million by 2050, and over 80 million by 2100, according to Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto.As the state evolves into a full-scale modern city befitting of its status, the government cannot afford to do less or rest on its oars. In fact, all residents and stakeholders must join hands with in the fight to maintain a conducive environment critical for sustainable living.

Just recently, in a bold move to halt further environmental violation in the area, the Lagos State Government dislodged scores of illegal squatters and miscreants residing under Ijora Bridge.The commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab had reiterated that the exercise was aimed at addressing issues of gross environmental abuse, perpetrated by the illegal squatters, adding that the government would leave no stone unturned in restoring sanity to the environment across the metropolis.At the core of the campaign for a clean and healthy environment is Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, the government agency which plays a crucial role in both the proactive and daily management of environmental issues in the state, as well as enforcements against recalcitrant violators through its enforcement team.Earlier in January, residents woke up to the cheering news of a total ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam packs and other single use plastics by the government.

The decision had followed the menace which the single use plastics, especially the non-biodegradable styrofoam was causing on the environment, as most drainage channels in the state are daily clogged, with a larger chunk of littering across major roads and markets attributed to same Styrofoam, despite the regular cleaning and evacuation of the drains with humongous resources.Furthermore, Oke-Afa, Isolo and Katangua Markets, in the Abule Egba area, were also sealed in January for violating waste disposal regulations and for sundry unhygienic practices, constituting grave environmental infractions.Wahab had charged that: “The government has not jettisoned its zero tolerance for waste and the only way for markets and traders, is to engage in decent and civilised waste disposal practices as outlined by the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) as any market or facility that runs foul will face sanctions”.Last November, the government reopened the Mushin main market, Ojuwoye, Awolowo, Irepodun and Daleko markets in the densely populated Mushin area of the state, after the traders made amends to correct widespread environmental infractions, including indiscriminate waste dumping.

Mile 12 international, Owode Onirin and Oyingbo markets were all also not spared last October as they were all sealed but reopened only after complying with environmental standards as stipulated by the government. Similarly, an Environmental Special Offences Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, last November handed down fines and community service penalties, to over 100 environmental offenders, found guilty of indiscriminate waste disposal, across the state.The presiding magistrate underscored the gravity of the offences and impact on the environment, subsequently imposing a fine of ₦30,000 on each offender, with an option of six hours of community service, in designated areas like the General Hospital, Odan, and Tinubu Market in Lagos Island.Beyond shutting markets and punishing violators, dialogue, awareness and other engagements, have also been well explored by the government and its core environmental agencies especially LAWMA.Determined to instil a positive environmental consciousness in the younger generation, the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), last November, went on a sensitisation mission to pupils of Otto Primary School, Otto, Lagos Mainland, on proper waste management, with emphasis on recycling, as a source of personal revenue.

The Managing Director/CEO of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, who led the team, addressed the pupils on the importance of proper waste management, noting that the exercise was part of the Authority’s environmental sustainability initiatives, to instill responsible waste management practices in children.He said; “I am glad to be among you all today. In LAWMA you mean so much to us and that is why we have deemed it fit to visit your school first, being the closest to us here in Otto. Diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and the like, thrive in environments that are unkempt and polluted with activities like littering, reckless waste dumping, and open defecation and so on. To avoid all of these, it behoves you to do what is right by disposing of your waste properly into the waste bins’’, he stressed.As the 3-week moratorium before the enforcement of total ban on styrofoam packs endures, LAWMA has held a consultative meeting with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), where it discussed ways of implementing sustainable waste management strategies, in view of the latest developments.Addressing the stakeholders, managing director/CEO of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin reiterated the Authority’s commitment to the Lagos State Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S Plus agenda, stressing that the state government had to ban Styrofoam to protect the environment and safeguard public health.

Gbadegesin, said the Authority would continue to place premium on establishing a cleaner and healthier environment, promising to continue to identify and address environmental challenges across the state, and to work tirelessly, to make Lagos a cleaner, more sustainable city.On the overall, the government’s holistic approach signals a responsible, coordinated and proactive leadership in the state, helping to assure of conducive environment for all and sundry and preventing environmental disasters caused by poor hygiene and related habits.No serious government should allow actions that can jeopardise citizens health and safety, and the state government has shown through its continued actions, that it could walk the talk and would not hesitate to take decisive measures to protect the environment and safeguard lives and properties of over 22 million residents.

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Environment Sanwo-Olu

Sanitation: Lagos to start dislodgement of illegal slaughter slabs Sept.1

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LASG says it will start  the dislodgement of illegal slabs as well as the monitoring of all veterinary premises from Sept. 1.

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu

The Lagos State Government (LASG) says it will start  the dislodgement of illegal slabs as well as the monitoring of all veterinary premises from Sept. 1, across the state.

The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said this  on Sunday during the re-inauguration of the Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance (MEC) Team of the ministry.

Olusanya said that the dislodgement was in furtherance of the sanitisation and reform of the red meat value chain.

She noted that the exercise would also involve the monitoring of meat transportation as well as stray animal control.

She added that the dislodgement is necessary especially as the state was particular about producing wholesome and healthy meat for its residents while simultaneously ensuring that the streets were free of stray animals.

She recalled  that  the dislodgement of illegal slaughter houses had been an on-going exercise for about three years now.

According to her, the need to strictly enforce meat transportation using only the designated vehicles and stray animals’ control which have  lately become more rampant cannot be over emphasised.

“The need for continuity and sustained effort against perpetrators of illegalities in the state informed the re-inauguration of the MEC unit by the current administration.

“You will agree with me that the menace of illegal slaughter slabs is rearing its ugly head in the state again with attendant negative public health impact on the over twenty million populace of our dear state.

“The government of Lagos State under the leadership of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu seriously frowns at such public health risk to Lagosians, hence, the reconstitution of this unit,” she said.

Olusanya noted that the team would monitor the existence of illegal slaughter slabs as well as ensure proper regulation of veterinary activities in the state.

She added that the state would also monitor the activities of the Lagos State Private Veterinary Premises Registration Authority.

She also  said that all aspects of veterinary premises regulations, veterinary standards, compliance, monitoring and enforcement would be covered by the team.

She added that issues concerning transportation of live animals and meat from government approved abattoirs to the market would also be looked into.

The acting commissioner said that only the Eko refrigerated meat vans and the Eko live animals transport were  permitted to move meat from one place to another.

“The MEC team is also expected to monitor the standards of operations of all approved slaughter houses statewide in order to ensure compliance with professional best practices.

“Also, all illegal and unapproved modes of meat transportation and live animals’ transportation will be dully curtailed as only approved modes will be allowed.

“The modes are the Eko refrigerated meat-vans and the Eko live animals transport.

“Its aim is to further sanitise the red meat value chain and improve the quality and wholesomeness of the meat consumed by the people,” she said.

Olusanya  also said that ongoing rehabilitation works were being undertaken in the 20 approved slaughter slabs in the state in a bid to improve their present states to meet international standards by converting some of these slabs to semi-mechanised abattoirs.

She said that the government had been monitoring and regulating the affairs of premises where veterinary activities such as treatment of animals, sales of drugs and biological activities take place.

She said that the menace of stray animals on major roads and streets was on the high.

She said that such animals, by destroying various ornamental plants, shrubs and trees of aesthetic value within the metropolis, had increased the risk of accidents and environmental degradation.

She said that the prevalence of the outbreak of zoonotic diseases which pose major threats to human health had increased.

“In addition, the team is also to monitor and control the menace of stray animals statewide by extensive intermittent raiding of these animals off Lagos metropolis.

“Lagosians should by this re-inauguration expect a better service delivery in terms of hygiene, safety and wholesomeness of meat products as only approved slaughter houses are to release duly certified and inspected meat to the populace.

“The standard of veterinary regulation and service delivery statewide will definitely be up scaled and maintained,” she said.

The acting commissioner said that since the inauguration of the stray animal control, several animals had been confiscated, owners fined to recover the animals while unclaimed ones were donated to orphanages within the state.

Olusanya said that all stakeholders including members of the Lagos State Butchers Association, Abattoir Concessionaire Forum, Lagos State Sheep and Goat Association and Lagos State Ram and Goat Sellers Association would been carried along for an effective operation of the MEC unit.

She listed other members as Eko Refrigerated Meat Van, Eko Live Animal Transport and the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association.

The Chairman of the state Butchers Association, Mr Bamidele Kazeem, pledged the association’s full support for the state government’s initiative to sanitise the red meat value chain.

Kazeem said that registered abattoirs and meat markets were already in compliance with all the laws by the state government concerning the reform of the red meat value chain.

“My members in Lagos State are very much ready we have been clamouring for the re-inauguration of the enforcement team because of the many illegal slaughter houses in the state.

“We have to control the nemesis caused by these illegal abattoirs and sales of meat.

“Some people now have even taken  the laws into their hands; when the state gives a law about something, they do the opposite which our association is not happy with.

“That was why we appealed to the state government to revive the monitoring, enforcement and compliance team so that these measures will be totally complied with,” Kazeem said.

Mr Hamzat Kareem, the Secretary of the Lagos State Abattoir Concessionaires Forum, noted that the re-inauguration of the monitoring, enforcement and compliance team was a welcome development.

“We hope that this will curb the menace of illegal abattoirs because they are posing a huge threat to our businesses as legal operators.

“It will also help in ensuring that wholesome meat is produced for the populace,” he said.

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