13th August, 2010
At least 57 Highway Managers, sweeping roads in Lagos State, Nigeria have been crushed to death by vehicles at various places in the metropolis while on duty.
Managing Director, Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, Ola Oresanya disclosed this yesterday at the 2010 Sweepersâ€™ Workshop in Lagos.
According Oresanya, 57 street sweepers had so far been killed by reckless drivers in Lagos while performing their duties while several others had been maimed for life.
He said the victims were killed and maimed between 2007 and now when the highway managers started sweeping the roads.
â€œHealth and safety of lives on the roads have been the greatest challenges being faced by the sweepers and that is why we have decided to focus on safety first in this two-day workshop,â€™â€™ he said.
According to him, LAWMA had intensified training on health and safety, use of high reflective clothing, prompt health care services and sanctioning of erring workers on safety issues to reduce accidents involving them.
Speaking, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State lamented the rate at which street sweepers were being killed by reckless drivers, saying that the state would no longer mortgage the lives of the sweepers in the hands of unscrupulous drivers.
He commended the 10,000 street sweepersÂ for contributing to the stateâ€™s economy through their services to the state which had made it one of cleanest in the country
The theme of the twoday workshop is Cleaner Lagos, Safety first. It was the second street sweepersâ€™ training.
The governor disclosed thatÂ the state had employed 300 sweepers to provide off shore services on the stateâ€™s waterways to complement the over 10,000 street- sweepers in the state whom he described as icons of change that had assisted residents in fulfilling their resolutions to change what they do not want.
The governor described the street sweepers and highway managers as â€œcritical champions of change.You are representatives of the resolve of the people of Lagos to change what they do not accept. If our state is cleaner today, if our state is more prosperous today, if our state is safer today, it couldnâ€™t have happened without your contribution.
â€œFor me, some people see street sweepers, I see icons of change; some people see street sweepers, but I see builders of enormous possibilities; some people see street sweepers, but I see champions of our drive as hardworking people of Lagos to change that which we do not accept; some people see street sweepers, I see critical contributors to the change that we all want to make in Lagos.â€
He explained that whereas all the other components of healthcare delivery constituted just 20 percent of the total healthcare system, the environment alone constituted the remaining 80 per cent, pointing out that the state of the environment determined, to a large extent, the quality of life of the people.
â€œWhat happens in the environment, water supply, how waste is managed, determine to a large extent the quality of our lives. Therefore, you are as important as the doctors and nurses.Â What you do or fail to do will have an impact on how long I and you and all the people here can live.
â€œYou are not just street sweepers; you are critical members of the value change to our quality of life. Apart from keeping our streets clean, this is a whole economy. With over 10, 000 people employed in the job, tailors have been kept busy making their uniforms while the boots, hand gloves and other accessories are being supplied by people. All these people are part of the economy of Lagos and I see that economy getting bigger,â€ he said.
In his goodwill message, Cardinal James Odunbaku commended Fashola for the initiative to employ street sweepers and highway managers, pointing out that Lagos would not have attained its present environmental status without the governor.
Earlier, Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire described the sweepers as the true faces of Lagos, adding, â€œthey are the people making us proud and ensuring that Lagos remains on top. Â I thank all the street sweepers for giving us a clean and tidy city which has contributed to our healthy living.Â There is the urgent need for corporate organizations to continuously train and retrain their drivers in civil road usage to reduce the carnage.â€