25th January, 2024
By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Lagos State Government on Thursday maintained that there is no going back on the total ban of usage and distribution of Styrofoam in the State.
The affirmation was made at a consultative meeting of the State with representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(MAN) and Restaurant and Food Services Proprietor Association of Nigeria(REFSPAN) in the Alausa, Secretariat.
Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab who spoke on behalf of the state said enough damage has been done already to the health of the people and the state of the environment.
He said the only moratorium which the state is willing to offer all producers and distributors of Styrofoam is to delay commencement of enforcement of the ban by three weeks.
He said three weeks was enough time for the products already in the state to be exhausted if indeed the stockists were committed.
Wahab reminded everyone that the pronouncement on banning of Styrofoam was made over three years but that no one has tried to enforce the law till now.
“You will all agree with me that for over three years this conversation has been ongoing, waiting for when the big bold step of enforcement will be taken,” he said
He said the number of lives that had been lost through the effect of the use of styrofoam, the destruction of the ecosystem and aquatic lives as well as the menance brought upon the environment could not be quantified.
He added that the lives of the residents is far more important than the profit producers set to make for the continuous production of Styrofoam.
Wahab explained that the rippling effect of Styrofoam on the health care system was enormous, stressing that manufacturers’ appeal to put the ban on hold was like wanting people to take poison for a longer time in order to mitigate their commercial losses.
He maintained that the havoc and destruction caused to public utility by this product during and after the raining season was unimaginable, stressing that if the producers had been responsible enough to respect the law, government would not have had to wade into the matter.
According to him, government is putting a human face to this Ban by giving three weeks moratorium to producers and entrepreneurs in the hospitality business and that they must bear in mind that Leadership and governance involved making tough decisions.
He said producers had a responsibility to the society but that none had taken steps to be responsible by conducting an environmental impact assessment before commencement of production for public use.
The commissioner said the conversation about other types of single use plastics would continue until a workable solution was reached leading to its ban.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Dr. Gaji Omobolaji Tajudeen noted that the decision to ban the product was reached following the menace caused by the use of Styrofoam in the environment, saying the product is not recyclable, and would remain the same after hundred of years.
He added that Styrofoam is hazardous to wild and aquatic life and that animals often mistake them for food.
Also, the Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegeshin said the State Government could no longer continue to watch the Styrofoam pack clogging the drainage channels bearing in mind that the particular plastic product is hazardous to human health.
“It will be irresponsible for government to sit and fold its hands because the cost of clearing those packs from tertiary, secondary and primary drains is very expensive,” he added
The representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Okpe Sunday and Restaurant and Food Services Proprietor Association of Nigeria(REFSPAN) Mr. Olaoye Kazeem pleaded for leniency and for time to allow Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and RESPAN to use existing stock before enforcement commences.