By Fola Adeyemi
Cleaner environment is among the yardstick for ranking cities and for attracting multinational companies as well as investors. Ranking of cities is helpful in terms of employment and development opportunities. Multinational companies are attracted to set up their offices in the cities with good rankings. Avoidance of degradation is another benefit of a clean city.
It is, therefore, with a view to promoting environmental regeneration in Lagos State that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu made Health and the Environment a major pillar of his administration’s THEMES Agenda. Indeed, one of the earliest actions of the governor was the signing of his first Executive Order to address sanitation as well as cleaning of drainages in the State.
Since it came on board, the Sanwo-Olu administration has demonstrated the zeal and willingness to enhance improvement in the state’s waste management system. The administration is resolved to rid the state of waste, necessitating the introduction of “Lagos at 4 am” operation and other laudable initiatives aimed at improving the state’s environmental architecture. “Lagos at 4 am” is an initiative to ensure wastes are evacuated and carted away in the early hours of the day as it is done in major global cities.
The Sanwo-Olu administration has disclosed plans to undertake waste sorting for households, as well as the provision of bags for bottles, kitchen wastes and other items, emphasising that waste sorting has potentials for economic growth by way of providing employment opportunities. This is hinged on the promotion of 3 ‘R’s-Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
One vital strategy that the administration is already employing to improve waste management in the state is ensuring synergy between PSP operators and the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in order to attain a cleaner environment. Presently, LAWMA is working assiduously to collaborate with PSP operators. This is being done by encouraging them to reinvest in the business so that the confidence of the public in their capability could be restored. Presently, LAWMA is doing well in this direction as a reasonable proportion of the PSP operators are already back in business. This explains why heaps of refuse are gradually being eliminated along Lagos roads.
LAWMA is equally intensifying efforts to preserve the environment. To this end, it recently clamped down on Sangotedo Market, Eti Osa, Lagos due to indiscriminate dumping of refuse and poor hygiene practices. LAWMA has also commenced an intensive clearing exercise to clean the Adeniji-Adele canal, just as it urges residents to think of making money from their recyclable items, instead of dumping them in canals. The exercise is to be extended to other clogged drainage channels in the state.
Tree planting is another strategy being used by the state government to protect the environment. Trees have been scientifically proven to be very useful as first line of defence in the fight against global warming as they absorb the carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, replenish the air with oxygen and also contribute immensely to the aesthetics of the environment. They also check erosion and stem the tide of windstorm by serving as wind breakers. On another note, trees are brilliant cleansers. They remove other pollutants through the stomates in the leaf surface.
In order to fully maximize the environmental benefits of trees, Governor Sanwo-Olu has urged Lagosians to support his government’s tree planting vision. The governor urged residents “to join hands with his administration to rid the state of waste, as well as improve the aesthetics of the environment by adorning it with ornamental plants, beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees”.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has, no doubt, demonstrated immense knowledge and commitment of how to tackle climate change when he emphasized the strategic importance of tree planting in bringing about a healthy environment and protecting the general wellbeing of the citizenry, saying “it remains a strong tool to tackle the effect of climate change and global warming”.
It is, therefore, not a surprise that Lagos State used the theme ‘Clean and Green is our Perfect Dream’ for this year’s tree planting sensitisation campaign to accentuate the THEMES Agenda of the State Government which plays significant emphases on improving citizen’s health and creating a sustainable environment.
One unique message that should resonate across the State and, indeed, Nigeria from the 2019 Sanwo-Olu tree planting day messages was the one that enjoined Lagosians thus: “As we mark our birthdays, let’s plant a tree; as we dedicate our children, let’s plant a tree; as we celebrate our children’s graduation, let’s plant a tree; whatever memorable event that we do, let’s endeavour to mark it with planting of trees. This little act of benevolence to nature can actually save our planet from further destruction”.
Similarly, on-going cleaning up of the Badagry axis is another pointer to the administration’s strong resolve to improve the state’s environmental landscape. While matching his talk with actions, particularly to reinforce his first Executive Order on zero tolerance for environmental abuse, respite has now come for road users and residents along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as work has commenced on the reconstruction of the all important road.
While executing the Governor’s Executive Order, the State Environmental Task Force has begun massive clearing of all illegal structures and shanties built on setbacks on the stretch of Eric Moore to Trade Fair on Lagos-Badagry Expressway. This is in a bid to clean up the entire stretch to pave way for reconstruction and completion of the expressway.
The move is in line with the state government’s zero tolerance on environmental degradation and sanitation, as well as tackling traffic menace in the Lagos metropolis. The state government is also working along the Oshodi-Abule Egba corridor to secure it for a clean-up exercise aimed at reclaiming rights of way for free passage of vehicles and improving the aesthetics of the environment.
Essentially, the purpose of clearing the Badagry axis of shanties was to also activate the BRT corridor and ensure the roads are free of miscreants and illegal traders. Residents are, therefore, advised to vacate this corridor and desist from all illegal activities along the axis. They are also advised to desist from indiscriminate dumping of refuse forthwith and make good use of large Dino bins and containers provided along the corridor.
Certainly, the determination of the Sanwo-Olu administration to achieve a greater Lagos, especially through environmental regeneration is, without doubt, on course. But then, Lagosians need to also walk the talk with the state government by playing their part in the dream to make Lagos greater.
-Adeyemi is Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja