This is my last post for this week and like others, today’s topic is particularly dear to me because, at some point in my life, I have been both the victim and the culprit, so I understand what it means to litter the environment and the health hazards involved too. We shall be looking at the environmental damages of indiscriminate waste disposal and my case study is Lagos State, Nigeria.

Lagos is a city and a state in Nigeria. The commercial hub of the country in fact, and the second-fastest-growing city in Africa, and seventh in the world.  The latest population reports estimate its population to be more than 21 million, making it the largest city in entire Africa.  With per capita waste generation of 0.5 kg per day, Lagos generates more than 10,000 tons of urban wastes every day. With its growing population, one of the challenges that have continued to plague the city and make life unbearable for the people is environmental pollution, resulting from a lack of proper waste management by the government and also careless disposal practices by the residents themselves.

Lagos, as Africa’s most populated city, is managing waste generated by over 20 million residents running into 13,000 metric tons daily with infrastructure constructed in the ’70s for a population of 3 million. In the past, this was a seemingly easy fix. Trucks drove the waste far outside town, depositing it at the 40-hectare Olusosun dumpsite. But today, Lagos has expanded well beyond the old dumpsites, and the huge dumps find themselves in the center of the city now, a hospital on one side, a primary school on another, and homes hovering just over its precipice. It is directly off the main highway, and a whiff of burning trash sometimes blows across the city’s standing traffic jams. This is a pathetic experience daily for the residents nearby.

Having lived in Lagos for almost 5 years, I know that waste disposal in the city of Lagos has become an enormous public challenge and source of grave diseases, blockage of sewers and drainage networks, and choking of water bodies. Waste management is currently the most pressing environmental issue faced by Lagosians currently and it is assuming alarming proportions with each passing day.

These wastes are oftentimes generated by households, local industries, artisans, and traders which litter the immediate surroundings and sometimes cause traffic jams. The Lagos State government lacks proper garbage disposal and reliable transport infrastructure. Sometimes, collected wastes do not make it to their designed localities and no one is held accountable. There are also inadequate budgetary provisions for the implementation of programs in this regard across the state.

The waste disposal situation in Lagos currently is an eyesore and requires a concerted effort from everyone to drive order and cleanliness.

Designated agencies should design plans to sensitize the general public on the need for the proper disposal of solid waste, and sanctions applied where necessary. Collective efforts must be intensified to monitor and enforce sanitation laws as well as regulate the activities of the franchisees on good sustainable practices.


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