In this interview with NIKE POPOOLA, the Managing Director, Lagos State Waste Management Authority, Ibrahim Odumboni, speaks on efforts to ensure environmental sustainability in the state
How is LAWMA ensuring the achievement of environmental sustainability?
Environmental sustainability is very vast. It does not mean living without luxuries but being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste. Social satisfaction, efficiency improvement and innovation are the key drivers to achieve sustainability. We have sustainability experts in LAWMA. We do business across all our programmes from waste collection to disposal, the PSP programme, the landfills operations and others, ensuring that our entire operations are based on ensuring that we adhered to the environmental sustainable goals.
What is the motive of the partnership between LAWMA and some banks?
The key thing about this partnership is that it brings sustainability to solid waste management in Lagos State as waste management is the responsibility of all. The organisations we currently partner with already had their Corporate Social Responsibility plans drawn up for the year 2021 and our engagement with them last year, around October/November 2021, gave us the benefits that we have now. In terms of what the organisations support us with, we have Heritage Bank, NIMASA, Tangerine Life and Rotary Club (Eko Atlantic branch) – all supporting us with recycling. Access Bank and Law Union & Rock supporting us with LAWMA Academy, while FirstBank is with our sweeping sanitation. For example, in total, we have over 150 recyclable bins donated by our recycling partners and over 15,000 sweepers’ uniforms rebranded.
What is LAWMA doing to upgrade the waste management system in Lagos?
The process of waste management, generation, collection and disposal varies from city to city, and it involves a significant financial and human capital investment coupled with demands for advocacy and awareness with residents. The current Lagos State Government, led by Governor Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, led by the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tunji Bello, are in tune with this and currently leading the way in Nigeria. In relation to recycling, Lagos State has started recycling officially since the inception of the current administration and, over the last six months, has scaled up with the revamp of Blue Box Initiative to Lagos Recycles; introduction of technology through PAKAM App; provision of incentive scheme; collaboration with corporate organisations for production and distribution of recycling bins to airports, schools, hospitals and other public places; inauguration of Lagos Recyclers Association; capacity building for our certified recyclers, and engagement with Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, World Bank, to mention a few. The ultimate goal is to divert 20 per cent of our waste collected which are recyclables from our disposal sites.
On disposal of waste and waste to energy initiative, it is known that there are various approaches to it which include open dumping, landfilling, sanitary landfill for gasification and incineration system for energy generation, among others. In Lagos, at the moment, we have the landfills system, and in the last nine months, we have expedited efforts to ensure that we move away from that as quickly as possible due to its long-term environmental impact while we mitigate that. As we look at the vision of Lagos up to 2030, we need to come up with effective ways of managing our waste disposal in Lagos because the city is surrounded by water and limited in landmass availability. It is important that we have the right choices made, rather doing something that is not sustainable. We have started partnering with various organisations that engage in sustainable ways to energy.
We are discussing with various environmentally-conscious organisations to give us various options to explore. We have also sent our team of in-house experts to different countries and seminars to examine the available waste management models in those countries. We can benchmark our city with countries such as Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Netherlands and Venezuela in terms of topography, population and other environmental challenges. We want to achieve something that is more sustainable for Lagos State and Lagosians. It is our goal to ensure that any initiative we embark on is at an affordable cost for the state and residents as well.
Olusosun dumpsite has gone through transformations. What is your plan for it?
The future goal for Olusosun is to decommission the site and start using it for a waste-to-energy plant where the waste there can be converted to energy by proponents that have shown interest. Due to recent urbanisation challenges at Olusosun, the latest technology waste management plan is required for the site. The essence of decommissioning the dumpsite is to limit the impacts of the landfill to people living around there. For the dumpsite that Visionscape initiated at Epe, we have adopted that, and we are managing it.
It is quite similar to the landfill approach we have at Olusosun. But what we are doing is that we are collaborating with the waste management development team to carry out environmental impact analysis, measures to put in place a sanitary landfill or incineration plant so that we can initiate a contemporary solid waste management plan. The aim for us is to ensure that we build something that is environmentally friendly and state-of-the-art technology rather than landfilling. For the likes of Olusosun, the pre-decommissioning process has started with the capping of the sites with laterites in progress; so, when it rains, it goes green on it and it will start degenerating and we start recovering the place ready for close, so that we can move on.
To what extend has LAWMA been able to achieve the mandates given to it by the Lagos State Government?
My responsibility and mandate given are spelled out in the Lagos State Environmental Protection and Management Law 2017. It stipulates that we are saddled with the responsibility to ensure a consistently cleaner Lagos is achieved in an environmentally sustainable way and ensure this is also done with greater consideration given to human health demand. This is also well emphasised under the current administration’s THEMES agenda with the first letter E standing for Environment and Health. Moreover, solid waste management is a collective human responsibility, not just the agency’s, as the part we all play determines the benefits to us all, and I am just leading from the front as the responsibility champion. In doing this, we collaborate with other agencies within the state, other key stakeholders in the private sector and align with the policies and agendas of our parent ministry. The commitment to effectively manage our solid waste is a daily effort in a proactive manner; therefore, all hands have to be on deck to ensure that progress is made on the over 14,000 metric tonnes of waste generated daily.
When you compare solid waste management when Visionscape was handling the waste management of the state to what we have now, you will begin to see the magnitude of the progress the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration has made over the last two years now. Visionscape had a target of 2,000 metric tonnes daily, averaging over 150 trips compared to the over 800 trips we have completed daily currently. We also have the mandate of the state to ensure an effective and sustainable solid waste management plan is put in place for the future.
In terms of deliverables so far, we have made significant progress in the initiation of recycling/separation of waste from source, launch of LAWMA Academy for promotion of waste education and awareness across all ages, reforming of our PSPs for service optimisation and sustainable capacity building. On disposal, we have had a fully rehabilitated landfill and have proactively commenced the research for our future needs as we cannot continue with the current conventional approach. I am extremely confident that this administration is on the right course to deliver the first revolution for waste management in Lagos.
As part of our plan for effective solid waste disposal management, we created our own blueprint, which led to the inauguration of our Waste Management Unit. This unit is saddled with the responsibility of carrying out research and development activities to ensure sustainability in relation to solid waste disposal. They research on what we have currently and what we will do in the future; they travel to various countries to understudy the latest developments efforts in waste management and examine what various global stakeholders are saying.
What are the key growth initiatives that LAWMA under your watch has launched, and what progress has been made so far?
One of the key growth initiatives we have implemented under my watch is the repositioning of LAWMA which was championed by the Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The focus has been how to better position LAWMA while considering the future ahead. So, we decentralised our operations to ensure that we are present in all Local Council Development Areas in Lagos metropolis and be more proactive rather than reactive.
The second growth initiative is PSP reform. We have reformed our PSP, organised capacity building for them and given them minimum standards to ensure deliverables. LAWMA is more regulatory than participatory now, and by doing this, we have been able to achieve more productivity in terms of trips to landfill and turnaround time for operations. More importantly, the governor helped us to address our disposal challenges with extensive rehabilitation of all our landfills for long-term gain.
The third is the foundation of LAWMA Academy, the first citadel of learning for solid waste management in Africa and Sub-Saharan Asia. The academy is aimed at bridging the gap between practical, academic and theories and eradication of myths while creating a conducive learning environment for solid waste management. It is also tasked with carrying out research, awareness creation, advocacy and education. We recently partnered with Lagos State State Universal Basic Education Board, to train primary school teachers across the state on solid waste management. The aim is for them to include waste management in their curriculum. The training will help primary school pupils to understand what it takes to manage waste and implementing effective waste management strategies as a culture. So we are trying to catch these primary school pupils young basically, and encourage them to imbibe good waste disposal culture in them.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]