Once upon a time, Lagos state was home to garbage. It ruled the streets and was found on every corner and imaginable place and space! Some unimaginable sites also laid claim to this menace and though it was the shame of the populace, the state government of the time felt no qualms. Life continued and the fight to combat it was half-hearted at best and ineffective at most. This struggle continued for years with no end in sight.
A monument to this legacy was found at Ojota; the odious stench from this massive dumpsite welcomed many commuters from various parts of the country. Those that had journeyed out of state were soundly reminded they were back home once their nostrils were assailed by putrefying gases. Although still in existence, this dump is not as obvious as it once was and the prevailing odour seems to have been quelled.
LAWMA has been set up to tackle the waste problem in the state and even though we still have many rivers to cross, progress has been achieved one way or the other.
The most interesting part of the rubbish saga is that of collection (with its management and treatment as the most worrisome). The garbage trucks make the rounds at appointed times within various neighbourhoods. The clanging bell often alerts residents to the truck’s arrival and their response is to bring out bags, sacks, containers, and the like bursting at the seams with waste of various forms. Men, women and children, all heed the call to empty the undesirables.
The officials stand back and watch, there seems to be no apparent co-ordination or system to how each person will empty their lot. Inevitably some are smeared with foul looking (and smelling!) content that managed to escape set boundaries. Apologies are issued for the more obvious ones, often times those smeared have no clue about what has happened until they return home. The rush is only curtailed when the trash is undergoing compression and people are dissuaded from throwing anything inside because of the mechanism in operation.
Let’s change scenes and enter an estate on the appointed day of trash collection. At each gate stands a large bin or the waste ready for collection. The LAWMA operators empty the bins and other bags designated for disposal and deposit into the truck. They go from house to house until all the household waste has been evacuated and leave until the next collection time rolls around.
Both scenarios have illustrated the same service rendered by the same organisation, chalk and cheese if you would have it! LAWMA apparently conforms to different rules when it operates in separate environs. On the other hand maybe it’s the residents in the concerned locales that have written the rules that LAWMA obeys. Whatever the underlying factor, the non-estate areas seem to be getting a raw deal. I’m certain these people would prefer to have the truck pull up, pick up their waste, appropriately packed in bins and waste bags and carted away. This would be much easier than each household representative taking an early morning stroll, or hike (depending on whether the truck had already passed by) and take their chances at the tuck entrance struggling to deposit their waste with every other Tom, Dick and Harry. A system can be worked out that will be suitable for both parties...after all since it works in the estates it means that it can and does work!