9th June, 2011
The monthly environmental sanitation exercise introduced by the military government of General Mohamadu Buhari seems to be waning, just like its counterpart war against indiscipline introduced by the same government.
It is common these days to see people moving around on environmental sanitation days or playing football on deserted streets instead of cleaning their homes and environments.
While the people have become complacent, the government seems to have become lethargic in enforcing the monthly routine. Those whose duty is to enforce the monthly routine have turned it into a money-making venture and Lagosians are increasingly flouting the order to stay home and clean up.
The inability of the concerned authorities to clean up after the exercise is also a cause for worry, as garbage removed from the gutters and drainage channels are soon swept back into it or become an environmental nuisance to residents.
The monthly exercise is not only for residents, government too should be up and doing. Enforcement is just a part of it. Playing its own part is essential if government wants a clean environment with its much touted megacity project. It is not enough to declare a day, it is more important for government to play its part by providing trucks to evacuate the wastes generated by the exercise.
It is frustrating enough to lose a day but more frustrating that the refuse generated on that day finds its way back into the drainage channels or become a nuisance on the streets.
Government must act with dispatch on the next environmental sanitation day by ordering the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, and others concerned to deploy trucks all over the state to move the refuse generated immediately after the exercise. LAWMA has been equal to the task of clearing refuse round the clock but the task becomes overwhelming on sanitation days. The agency needs more trucks and personnel to sustain the good job it is doing.
The Lagos State government must show residents that it is serious about the environmental sanitation exercise by re-launching a new campaign and to show that it is still serious about a zero-tolerance level for environmental degradation.
Stinking streets and stagnant gutters must get new attention. And the new wave of covered drainage channels must be looked into. Are Lagosians ready for it? New roads and drainage channels are new challenges for both residents and the government.
Check out the drainage channels on new roads and one would see the challenge. Should we cover up our shame to the detriment of the people and environment? Now that the rains have come, the shame of the city is imminent. Even with the few rains, the challenge is glaring. People still empty their waste bins into the gutters the moment it threatens to rain. We need education more than ever, now that the challenge is here. And those who empty refuse into drainage channels thus causing flooding should be arrested punished severely.