Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Saturday allayed the fears of residents over the resurgence of waste on major highways and streets, assuring that the State Government is on top of the situation and working round the clock to make it a thing of the past.
Speaking at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja after inaugurating new board of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) now to be headed by a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police as Corps Marshal, Daniel Isiofia, Governor Ambode said the new waste management policy of government encapsulated in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) was designed to holistically address the challenges in the sector, and that all hands were already on deck to confront the initial hitches with the transition period.
He said adequate officials of LAGESC transformed from the former Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), have been employed to police all nooks and crannies of the State to curb indiscriminate dumping of waste and other acts inimical to clean, hygienic and sustainable environment.
Governor Ambode, who was represented at the inauguration by his Special Adviser on Education, Mr Obafela Bank-Olemoh, said concerted efforts were ongoing to clear the heaps of refuse across the metropolis, and assured that there would be marked improvement in coming days.
He said: “We are all living witnesses to the restructuring we are trying to do in the environmental sector. That restructuring culminated in the introduction of CLI which is focused at ensuring that the way we clean Lagos is comparable to what is being done in first class cities in the world.
“As a result, we are changing the way environment in Lagos is being managed and to help us to achieve that, this Sanitation Corp is important. But more importantly now is to speak to the fact that yes, we are having some challenges in the area of waste management in Lagos today. We all live in Lagos but I want to reaffirm that we are doing everything to ensure that this becomes a thing of the past.”
The Governor, who recalled similar challenges in the State in 1999 under the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, expressed optimism in the workability of the new initiative, saying that the challenges with the teething stages would soon be over.
“Let me assure the people that in the coming weeks, there will be improvement. We are already witnessing a high-level of improvement; we promise that throughout this week and throughout next week, people will see a marked improvement in our State as more equipment come in to the country and we are able to deploy the equipment accordingly.
“But beyond the fact that we are clearing waste, the CLI is also ensuring that we have landfill sites not dumping sites but landfill sites where the waste we are generating in Lagos can be recycled, re-engineered and also resold so that we can create wealth and a new business for Lagosians to tap into.”
Speaking further, the Governor said: “Another key aspect of the initiative is that it will create jobs. As we speak to you, we have employed over 8500 new street sweepers that are being deployed across the State and the target is 27,500. So, every part of Lagos will have street sweepers that are unique to them and live in their neighborhood. Once again, I want to reassure the people that we are on top of the issues here; we promise that you will see a marked improvement and we are totally committed to that. God helping us, we will deliver one of the cleanest cities in the world,” the Governor said.
Besides, Governor Ambode said the support of residents was key to the success of the new initiative, and urged the people to team up with his administration to achieve the overall objective to deliver a clean, hygienic and sustainable environment.
Also speaking, Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris said the need for the new environmental initiative became imperative owing to the fact that there was need for a review of the old system to tackle emerging challenges.
Idris, who said there was correlation between environment and health, particularly urged LAGESC to efficiently and effectively perform its duty, just as he underscored the need for the people to support government.
“The State Government will do its bit; that is why we are here; that is why everybody is working round the clock to ensure we get things done but the people themselves have a serious role to play in terms of their behavior, personal sanitation, what to do with waste and also the people must understand that whatever disease that befall them is due to their own personal behavior because they need to complement the activities of government.
“All of us have a role to play in keeping Lagos healthy because there is a connection between health, environment and security,” Idris said.
On his part, Isiofia thanked Governor Ambode for the opportunity to serve the people, assuring that his men will hit the ground running in line with the mandate to keep the State clean.
He said though the starting point may be difficult but assured that every efforts would be made to change the face of Lagos for good.