Inside the toxic graveyard of Lagos

• Saving 21 million Lagosians from toxic waste
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
That Lagos, the commercial capital of the most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria, is the fifth largest economy in Africa is undisputed; what may not be known to many is that Lagos is also the world’s leading destination for toxic and electronic waste.

Only recently, the Koko community of Warri North Local Council of Delta State, hugged the limelight over a toxic waste dump, which is a repeat of the sad episode of the 1987/88 incident when two Italians – Giafranco Raffaeli and Renato Pent of the waste broker firms, Ecomor and Jelly Wax conspired with a Nigerian, Sunday Nana of Iruekpen Construction company to import from Italy, 18,000 drums of hazardous waste under the pretext of substances relating to the building trade, and as residual and allied chemicals.

The latest development is, allegedly, being perpetrated by a local company, Ebenco Global Links Ltd., an integrated waste management facility based in Koko. Already, the Executive Director of ERA/ FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, has called on both the Delta State government and the National Environmental Standard Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to immediately set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the recent dumping of toxic waste in Koko town.

But beyond Koko is the disaster waiting to explode in the beautiful city of Lagos. With a population well over 20 million, Lagos has a rich history of economic growth and transformation. Although it covers only 0.4th of Nigeria’s territorial landmass, making it the smallest state in the country, it accounts for over 60 per cent of industrial and commercial activities in the country.

Lagos has emerged as a major hub for the hundreds of national and multinational companies and the complex business and professional services that support them.

Koko toxic waste dump in Delta State

Inside this boisterous state, which is the seventh fastest growing city in the world, and the second largest city in Africa, is a thriving informal sector, fueled by a burgeoning secondhand culture. This has given rise to a web of intricate industries and mega-markets that are mostly import-dependent.

The disposal of computers and other electronic and electrical goods, known as e-waste, is a growing global problem, though junk electronics represent a quality raw material for waste processing industries, especially in the developing world.

It is, however, no news that many of these junk electronics find their way to some Lagos markets like Ladipo auto spare-parts market in Mushin, Computer Village in Ikeja and the International electronics Market in Alaba.

These products come largely in 40-feet containers.

“On average, a 40-feet container weighing 9.9 tonnes of used electronics can contain 195 pieces of TV, 94 pieces of computer (monitor), 230 pieces of DVD players, 322 pieces of video player, 249 pieces of pressing iron, 810 pieces of blenders, 113 pieces of microwave ovens, 106 pieces of HiFi, 616 pieces of radio, and 558 pieces of electric kettles,” a 2012 Nigerian country assessment report, which contains data for 2010, noted.

In 2016, the world threw away 91.5 million tonnes of electrical equipment. A tonne is the equivalent of a thousand kilogramme, which is about the weight of a small car. It is left to be imagined how many of these found their way to the Apapa and Tin Can seaports.

In 2005, it was estimated that 75 per cent of electrical and electronic goods imported into Lagos were junk, with e-waste accounting for 12.5 per cent of shipments in 2009. By 2011, 70 per cent of electronics imported into Lagos were second-hand and only 15 per cent of that was non-repairable.

This is a huge concern because dumped electronic consumer goods are, essentially, toxic waste. Old-style televisions and monitors contain lead and phosphorous pentachloride, printed circuit boards contain arsenic mercury and bromides, same as fridges.

Buried in landfill, broken up improperly or burnt, these toxins can be exposed to the air or leach out into the soil and water table, leading to a severe healthcare crisis.

In the European Union (EU), the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) regulations govern how e-waste should be treated and processed, and also restrict where it can be exported. For instance, equipment cannot be shipped to developing countries for recycling and recovery, only for reuse. They must be tested to show that they are fully functional and packed so that they are not damaged in transport, otherwise they are classed as waste.

Unserviceable TV sets at Alaba market, Lagos

In the second-hand markets of Lagos, little consideration is given to whether the item is tested or untested due to an abundance of local repairers. Equipment shipped untested is classified as e-waste, and so it is in the country illegally. They are usually shipped in containers hidden behind working goods, concealed inside a car, or falsely described as personal items.

With a very lax regulation at the port of entry, there is often poor treatment of toxic waste materials, leading to the release of hazardous chemicals that can harm both people and the environment.

Most consumers abroad making the journey to the local dump with their “e-waste” might expect their equipment to be disposed of properly and safely, even if they are unaware of the WEEE directive that requires the disposal or reuse of this waste without damage to the environment.

How has Alaba electronics market infamously become the final destination for thousands of tonnes of televisions, computers, DVD players and other electronic items that previously sat in homes and offices of European countries before being taken for disposal to a municipal waste site?

In 2010, following a tip-off from a local authority insider that unusable e-waste was being bought and sent for export, there was a joint investigation by The Independent, Sky News and Greenpeace all based in the United Kingdom.

A large television set, with the base cut away to render it beyond repair, was left at a Hampshire County Council civic amenity site by investigators.
Under the WEEE regulations, it should have been disposed of by a specialist recycler, but the set was bought along with other electronic items by BJ Electronics (UK) Ltd, one of about 200 companies and individuals who tour municipal waste sites in Britain buying equipment.

A satellite tracking device inside the television showed it was taken to BJ Electronics’ warehouse before being sold to another company, who loaded it onto a cargo container bound for export.

The economics of the illegal export trade are straightforward. A whole consignment can be bought for a pittance from a civic amenity site, most of which will be working and a proportion of which will not. The system is supposed to filter out the hazardous e-waste and allow a legitimate second hand export trade. But what is happening is that it is all being lumped together and sent abroad, where the working items are sold and the broken stuff just thrown away to cause pollution.

Within days, the container was loaded onto the MV Grande America cargo ship bound for Lagos, from where it was unloaded and delivered to one of the hundreds of secondhand dealers in Alaba market.

It was just one of up to 15 containers of used electronics arriving in Alaba from Europe and Asia everyday.

Prof. Osibanjo

Igwe Chinedu, leader of the Alaba Technicians Association, said of the 600 to 700 televisions in each container, about 250 do not work. “We find that for each container, about 35 to 40 per cent of its contents are useless. Of those, only 35 per cent can be fixed. The rest goes to the scavenger children at the dumpsite.”

Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, retired professor of analytical and environmental chemistry at the University of Ibadan (UI), former director at the Basel Convention Regional Co-ordinating Centre for Africa in UI and a board member of Sustainable Electronic Recycling International (SERI), United States, said: “We have about half a million used electronics coming into Lagos every month, and only 25 per cent are working. The volume is so large that the people who trade it burn it like ordinary refuse.

“We have done a lot of studies and we were able to show that all the cells where e-waste dismantling takes place are heavily polluted. You are not only dumping the hardware, but also hazardous substances.”

Osibanjo explained that the poisonous chemicals withstand high temperature and are eventually released into the soil and ground water. “Where you burn them, they are being released into the earth. When it is really raining, they will wash into rivers and so on. A Ph.D student of mine in Abuja went to dump sites where they also raise cattle. She was able to get milk from a cow and then we looked at chicken eggs and all eggs. We found them all contaminated.”

However, the respected analytical chemist, said electronic recycling, when properly done, could be a goldmine for Nigeria. In this regard, he advised the Federal Government to consider recycling old phones, computers and other electronics, saying it was a good source of wealth and employment.

According to him, there were about 250 kilogrammes of gold in one million phones, adding that with e-recycling the country would witness economic prosperity and massive job creation. He stated that the United Nations had acknowledged the wealth potential of recycling, noting that Nigeria would no longer have to bank on oil, as she would be getting gold and silver from e-recycling.

Osibanjo further stated that although plans were underway to attract investors into the country for the establishment of e-recycling centres, poor regulations suffocating business environment were impeding the efforts.

Underscoring the dangers of e-waste on the environment, a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 6, 2017, has revealed that one in four young children die each year as a result of unhealthy environments.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one—particularly for young children,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, in a press statement. “Their developing organs and immune systems and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Beginning in the uterus, children are exposed to harmful environmental risks. According to the study, roughly 1.7 million children under the age of five die each year from factors that could have been prevented through addressing environmental risks, which WHO called “a shocking missed opportunity.

“Another category of threat to children’s health is emerging environmental hazards, including chemicals, electronic waste and climate change,” the report said. Electronic waste was “another growing concern”. When it is not disposed of properly, it can expose children to “a myriad of chemicals and toxicants, many of which are associated with reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer”.

The import of e-waste from Europe into Nigeria is illegal by both European and Nigerian standards. Still, hundreds of thousand tonnes of illegal e-waste are imported annually into Nigeria. Despite local laws banning the import, inefficient enforcement still makes Nigeria one of the largest e-waste importing countries in the world.

The e-waste trade is illegal because Nigeria does not possess any organized e-waste recycling or dismantling facility. The mass deposits of e-waste are therefore left to be crudely recycled under hazardous conditions. This crude recycling of e-waste is toxic to humans and to the environment.

Intriguingly, it is not only the electronic secondhand markets that populate Lagos with toxic waste. Cosmetic manufacturing industries produce ignitable waste, flammable solvents, strong acids and bases. Printing industry dealing in heavy metal solutions, waste ink, solvents and spent electroplating wastes contribute its fair share to the toxic waste deposit.

Same with furniture and wood manufacturing and refinishing plants, which produce ignitable wastes and spent solvents; metal manufacturing firms producing waste containing heavy metals, strong acids and bases; as well as leather products manufacturing and processing firms producing benzene and toluene wastes.

Ladipo Market

Another notorious spot where heavy metal wastes, ignitable wastes and spent solvents are generated in quantum quantity is the Ladipo auto spare-parts market tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and Mushin city centre at Toyota bus-stop along Apapa-Oshodi expressway.

Like a cancer, the market, which has become a Grease Land, has grown in leaps and bounds, spiraling into every available space. As the motor spare parts merchants expand their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.

There are more than 30,000 parts in a car. There is none hard to find in Ladipo. In fact, there are several assembly points where vehicles are butchered into parts, and scraps brought into the country are remodeled into useable vehicles.

At the Grease Land, every section of the market is a beehive of metal merchants’ activities. Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where cars take turns to be serviced. These artisans that have appropriated large parts of the road as adhoc mechanic workshops, carry out major assignments including replacing car engines and even spraying of vehicles right on the road.

Apart from thousands of importers of used electrical equipment making money off e-waste, the industry has also created a lot of jobs in the informal sector. Nearly 100,000 people are estimated to work as scavengers, people who pick the electronic waste from homes, dumpsites and other places.

Another 50,000 are estimated to work as refurbishers, repairing the ‘non-tested’, non-functional electronics. They make a living sweating to see that the imported waste can be repaired and have their life cycle extended.

Despite being illegal and hazardous, there is a craving for both e-waste and used electrical equipment among many Nigerians. The major reason for this, several retailers and traders said is economic. Most Nigerians cannot afford new products.

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, over half of Nigeria’s N170 million live in poverty. To enjoy the luxury of basic electrical and electronic equipment like fridges, TVs, and microwave ovens, most of them turn to the secondhand market. Besides cost, some Nigerians quite curiously feel the used products from Europe and America are of better quality than new ones imported from China.

“I’m even afraid of the quality of the new equipment coming into Nigeria, because you find out that most of these new equipment transforms faster into e-waste because of low quality,” said Segun Odeyingbo, an official of StEP Initiative, an organisation dedicated to combating shipment of e-waste to Nigeria.

“A DVD player can easily be designed to last you for six months, and then it has already turned into e-waste.”

In his reaction to the growing incidence of toxic waste being imported into the country, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr. Lawrence Anukam, blamed the rise in global electronic or e-waste scourge on technological advancement.


Anukam, who spoke during a recent sensitisation workshop on the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for the electrical/electronics sector at the British High Commission residency in Ikoyi, Lagos, said the high technology consumption rate implies that sustainable production and consumption of electrical/electronics equipment would help control e-waste.

He explained that as a regulatory agency, NESREA is working with International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Lyon in France on issues of environmental crime such as e-waste, illegal wildlife business and trans-boundary pollution.

The programme provides alert system on any ship bringing in e-waste into the country and enable coordinate action with the customs and the Navy to arrest such ships. He said NESREA had developed 24 regulations which are sector specific, one of which is protect species of endangered wildlife from extinction through the prohibition of trade, importation, etc.

Other measures the country’s e-waste regulator has adopted to regulate importation of used electronics is by registering the importers. This is to ensure only functional used electronics are imported.However, a lot of the importers are still not registered, the Lagos State coordinator of NESREA, Nosa Aigbedion Dickson, said.“Some of them are trying to evade the process. We have a situation where someone just goes to, maybe, the UK, takes equipment from the road free, assembles them together, puts it in the container, and ships it down to sell the junks as untested. But we are trying to see how we can ensure that it is only registered dealers that are bringing used electronics.”


Why Our Staple Foods Should Be Fortified

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has been in Nigeria for the last five years supporting food fortification programmes. The Country Manager, Nigeria and Regional Representative West Africa, Larry Umunna, spoke to TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA about the agency’s interventionist strategies to reduce malnutrition in the country.

Larry Umunna

What are the activities of GAIN in Nigeria?

IN the past five years, we have been working with local stakeholders such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Planning Commission (NPC).

In March 2011, we decided that Nigeria was an important country and it was not enough to stay back in Geneva and operate by remote control. We came in and set up a country office and invest more resources in Nigeria with the objective to reduce malnutrition, using various interventionist strategies.

What are some of these strategies?

We have a vision of a world without malnutrition, but it cannot be reduced overnight. For us, we are supporting the government, private sector and development agencies to reduce malnutrition. Previously, we have invested money through other partners, but beginning from June 1, we are investing $2 million in the area of food fortification for the next three years; first to see how we can strengthen compliance to the legislation.

There is legislation in place that makes it mandatory for staple foods to be fortified, but the question is are these foods really fortified? How can we help NAFDAC and SON to build their capacities to truly monitor; and how can we encourage the private sector to comply and move towards self-regulation, so that they don’t need a NAFDAC to wield the big stick.

We also recognise that many consumers in the rural areas do not understand what food fortification is all about. We want to create this awareness and build it into consumers about the need to patronise fortified foods.

We are investing $500,000 in a social marketing campaign, which will be launched very soon. We are already finalising the selection of proposals from various marketing agencies by the middle of June. The selected agencies will have the task of developing and implementing a social marketing campaign, in conjunction with our partners.

We need to revive the standards. The standards for food fortification in the country still uses an iron form that is not in line with WHO guidelines. Some work will be done with the SON and the flour millers to ensure the right form of iron is used; otherwise, we are wasting our time. We consume the food; we still don’t get the iron the body needs.

What has changed since GAIN began working in Nigeria?

It is very sad to note that when you think about Nigeria – the giant of Africa, 160 million people, very vibrant private sector, and very wealthy country – when you see that picture, you actually expect the nutrition indicators will be the same. One of the things I always emphasise is that we cannot talk about development if we don’t address this basic indicator.

All the statistics about growth is nothing if our people are still hungry and malnourished. It is very sad to see our GDP in the last five years grow steadily, between six and eight percent, which is much higher than the average growth for Africa, but still, during this same period, we still have situations of 40 percent stunting in children under the age of five. Stunting is a glorified name for chronic malnutrition.

Two out of every five children are malnourished; we still account for 14 percent of the global maternal mortality rate in the world; we still account for 12 percent of under-five child death in the world; we are still one of the 10 countries that account for 80 percent of the global under-weight in the world.

It is difficult to reconcile that with this wealthy picture we have, which is one of the many reasons GAIN decided to make Nigeria one of its priority countries, and we are putting a lot of energy in this because we know if we get it right here, we would at least have put a dent on the global malnutrition figures.

What other projects does your agency intend to implement in Nigeria?

In addition to our food fortification programme, we are looking at infant and young child nutrition. One of the things we want to do, in collaboration with the Federal Government, is to introduce the use of micronutrient powders, which has been formulated and would be made affordable to improve the nutritional status of our foods.

We are starting with Lagos and Kano because we can’t go round the country at the same time. Besides, you need to show that things work before rolling out to other parts of the country and we don’t have unlimited funds.

Mile 12 Market… The Story Of Food Waste


@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

It was a shouting match between a trader and three men identified as truck driver and motor-boys, which attracted hundreds of onlookers at the popular Mile 12 International Market, Lagos recently. While much of the argument was in gibberish English and Hausa language, it was not difficult ascertaining the cause of the disagreement – a truck fully loaded with carrots.

The congregation of onlookers could only stand and stare at the ensuing melee between the two parties shouting themselves hoarse to be understood. The exasperated trader was refusing to receive his consignment, which arrived late, after a few days delay on the road.

To the bystanders, it was a common sight seeing truckload of perishable food items and farm produce waste even before they are offloaded. After much debate, the driver was paid fully and asked to do whatever he wanted with the spoilt carrots.

This happened on the day Ogun State government officials, in company of representatives from the World Bank, Bank of Industry, Central Bank of Nigeria, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), visited the market.

They were on a fact-finding mission to access the market, establish a replica in Ogun State and more importantly, address the problem of food wastage by establishing the proposed market closer to food processing companies, interested in preserving many of the farm produce.

Food waste or food loss is food that is discarded or lost uneaten. As of 2011, 1.3 billion tons of food, about one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually. Loss and wastage occurs on all steps in the food supply chain, and in developing countries, most loss occurs during production.

Mile 12 Market in the Agoyi-Ketu Local Government Area of Lagos State, is known for selling assorted fruits like orange, banana, cucumber, pineapple, garden egg, watermelon, pawpaw and foodstuffs at wholesale price. The market also acts as assembly point for foodstuffs “shipped” into Lagos from other states and outside the country.

Regular visitors to the market know two things are just as important as money: a pair of robber boots to protect their feet and shoes from getting soiled, and a handkerchief to reduce the assault of human and material waste on their sense of smell.












@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

How Weather, Bad Roads Affect Food Prices

Alhaji Abdul Mohammed, General Secretary of the market, said the lack of storage facilities and food preservatives is the major cause of food waste in Mile 12.

“Presently, the price of food in the market is high due to the rainy season. We lack the facility to store and preserve our farm produce. Also, most of our farmers still use the old methods of storage and preservation, which do not last long. It is time they began to employ modern ways of preserving foods, which are beyond what farmers can do on their own.”

A few metres from the building serving as secretariat of the traders’ union is parked a truck loaded with onions. Passersby could barely walk past without holding their breath, due to the stench of decaying onions.

“That truck is still in the line queuing to be offloaded and half of the onions are already spoilt. I learnt Borno State bought the onions from the farmers through their agriculture project. Imagine if this was not a government scheme, the loss would have been borne by the farmers,” Mohammed said.

According to him, agriculture business is rewarding but greatly unpredictable. “One of the factors causing food wastage is weather. Whether it is potato, tomato, or onion, fruits cannot be preserved for long. Secondly, transport problem adds to about 30 percent of food spoilage,” he said.

“In the past, tomatoes were not transported in trucks; they were transported in trains and coaches. With modern trains, you can spend not more than five hours from Kano to Lagos, but spending a whole day on the road is not the best way to transport perishable goods.

“The problem of transportation is compounded by bad roads. Each time trucks jump into the thousands of potholes on the roads, it causes more damage to the goods. Sometimes, trucks fall over and waste thousands of tons of food.”







@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Bad Food Has Its Fans

Mohammed added that it is difficult to estimate the amount lost to food loss, because there are buyers for every good, whether good or bad. “There are those who specifically shop for spoilt or damaged goods because it is cheaper,” he said.

A trader at the market, Ibrahim Musa, wants government to take the transport sector seriously, if it is interested in developing the agriculture sector. “Nigeria is so blessed, we do not have food crisis. What we produce is enough to feed the whole of West Africa, but much of this is lost because of the failure of rail transportation,” he said.

“At times, after bringing the goods here, what is left to be sold does not even cover transport cost. For instance, it will cost you N200,000 to transport goods in a 9/11 truck from Benue to Lagos. The day they arrive here does not matter to the transporter because he has to be fully paid before leaving the farm. Yet, we are the ones who will bear the loss if the goods arrive late.

“If government subsidises distribution of farm produce, it will be more beneficial to every Nigerian than the trillions of Naira government is wasting on fuel subsidy.”

On whether decentralising Mile 12 Market will reduce food wastage as a result of congestion, Musa said it still would not solve the problem. “The proliferation of markets would mean there will be price difference and people will naturally gravitate towards where the prices of goods are cheaper,” he said.

“And there is no way we can fix price because it is determined by unpredictable factors. For instance, a basket of tomatoes here is N15,000, which is costly. It is because of the rainy season in the North. If tomatoes flood this market today, it will go for as low as N5,000. So, it is not a matter of decentralising the market because it is too congested.”









@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Dissecting Food Problems At Conference

Grappling with higher food prices and falling consumption the world over, as the strains of the economic crisis make it more important than ever for consumers from all countries and walks of life to have access to high-quality, nutritious foods that are cost-effective; a seminar was hosted recently by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Lagos.

The event, held under the Global Broad-based Initiative (GBI) of the USDA, sought to showcase several farm produce and how it could be preserved.

According to the facilitator of the event, Programme Director of Development Communications Network, Akin Jimoh, “the conference was organised for us to learn from those who have done it better like the United States in terms of food supply, nutrition, food consumption and export.

“It is painful that over 50 percent of food produced is lost. Why can’t we export most of those foods that get destroyed at the farms and markets? If government develops the rural areas, our farmers can become richer and the price of food would drastically reduce. There won’t be too much migration to the urban cities and jobs would be created because food is the only thing we cannot do without.

“Government needs to rechannel its efforts to develop our rural areas and not concentrate all its activities at the state capitals. Gradually, the cities would be decongested and people in their prime can be encouraged to go back home and work, instead of leaving the aged alone to carry on farming,” he said.

Stakeholders raised the dire need of ingredient technology to boost the food industry. National President of Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, said the problem is the transfer of knowledge from the various research institutes and universities of agriculture into the market.

“A lot of our research bodies have done excellent work on procedures and preservation of our foods, but they end up in the shelves. Reason is because the Nigerian food industry is more interested in importing tested food formulas into the country rather than develop the local market,” he said.

Onimawo blamed the food wastage on problem of transportation. “What spoils food are micro organisms, which are found in the foods. When you transport these products under heat, the microorganisms tend to multiply faster due to the temperature, which end up destroying the food. But if these foods are transported in cold condition with rails that have air-conditioned coaches, we would tackle wastages of food,” he said.

“Recently, the management of DHL were in discussion with us on how they can help export some of our farm produce but there was no concrete arrangement reached because they don’t have the infrastructure for food storage.

“DHL flies aircraft loaded with goods into the country six times a week and returns empty. So, they were interested in our food export, but without proper storage, it could not be utilised. Most of our goods are wanted in the international market but because we have not organised ourselves, we can’t tap into this goldmine,” he said.

From left: Dr. J.O Onuora, President of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology; Olotu Ibru, Corporate Affairs Manager, UTC Nigeria Plc; Prof. Isaac Olaoluwa Akinyele Head, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan; Dr. Omo Ohiokpehai, Independent Agric-Nutrition Consultant; and Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, National President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria.


1,800 Days: Fashola Lists Gains In Waste Management, Agriculture, Water Transportation

By Tope Templer OLAIYA

Lagosians Lament State Of Infrastructure In LGAs, Doctors’ Strike

LAST week was another milestone in the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola. It was another season to reflect on and review the last hundred days as the government marked its 1,800 days in office.

And like it was in the first edition of the stocktaking event, it was another success story to share in the area of performance and delivery of dividends of democracy at the 18th occasion. And there was a lot to showcase.

But before government officials could reel out their achievements and celebrate, Lagosians at the event voiced out their displeasure about the deplorable state of infrastructure within the local council areas and in particular, the ongoing strike by doctors, which has become an annual practice. They were, however, sparing when they declared the state’s health sector as one of the best, if not the best in the country today.

Lagosians protesting the Doctor’s strike at the Lagos House, Alausa

One of the areas the state has succeeded is in the waste management sector, which has not only transformed Lagos as the cleanest state in the country, but has also created jobs in the last couple of years.

In his address on Wednesday, Fashola explained that the waste to wealth management strategy has created several jobs while the heaps of garbage littering most parts of the state have disappeared. He said that in those days soon after the military left governance, the first challenge was how to find solution to the heaps of refuse. “Those were the period we measured the length of refuse along the major expressway in kilometers.”

On the day Fashola was marking his 18 hundred days in office, over 15,000 street sweepers were on Lagos roads; and at Odogunyan, Ikorodu, Badary and other centres, huge volume of waste were being turned into fertilizers in the state’s waste to wealth programme.

The state government and the Federal Republic of Germany are also collaborating in developing institutions on the waste to wealth initiative as part of measures aimed at improving effective management of waste in the state.

Governor Fashola inspecting some equipment to improve the water transport sector during a recent business trip to Canada

According to the Commissioner for Agriculture and Co-operatives, Gbolahan Lawal, Fashola’s administration is not relenting in boosting the agricultural sector and food production. He explained that government would soon begin cultivation to boost food supply to the state. Also, the construction of a Farmers’ Wholesale Market with 100 shops, cold storage facility, mini-abattoir and ample space for parking has commenced in Poka, Epe, under a federal government programme.

President of Asiwaju Cams, one of the beneficiaries of Oke Aro cooperative society in Ikeja division, Mr. Samuel Tiwalade-Alayode, said the new farm service centre will relieve them of the stress, time and money of traveling down to Ojo for farm produce. He appealed to government to keep to its promise by replicating the centre in the other four divisional zones of the state.

Mr. Babatunde Shadeko, president of Imota Farm Settlement, said the society has benefited greatly from the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, especially in the supply of grains input. He added that with the farm service centre in all divisions of the state, services and input supply would be decentralised.

Members of Aiyedoto Farm Estate Cams, also expressed appreciation to the state for benefiting from its livestock grains input, CADP farm access roads and the FADAMA projects.

The federal government has recently allocated about 50 hectares of farmland to Lagos State in Abuja to support the food production efforts of the state as part of measures to ensure food security and improve internal agricultural production in the country.

While giving a breakdown of the 2012 budget of the state, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said billions of Naira has been invested on the repair of both state and federal roads within Lagos. Hamzat put refund of state expenses from the federal government at N59 billion.

Bad spot needing attention on Acme Road, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja.

He also unveiled plans by the state to build an eight-storey secretariat annex, which he said would be allocated to all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that are not resident within the main secretariat.

To improve the state of transportation, the administration has also inaugurated a six-man board of directors for the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), aimed at exploiting the potentials of the waterways and raising it to inter-model transport policy.

The state Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, said water transportation “if fully harnessed, will serve as a vital form of transportation in the mobility of people and goods in the state.” The state government recently signed an agreement with an Australian boat manufacturing company on the acquisition of 60 ferries to boost water transportation in the state.









Lagos: Weather Forecast Raises Fear Of Flood, Storms

By Tope Templer OLAIYA


IT is about another time Lagosians would begin to sing the old nursery rhyme Rain rain, go away. While many look forward to the rainy season as a huge relief from the searing heat of the last few weeks, the prediction of a heavy downpour spanning over 200 days is already raising anxiety among residents of Lagos.

Last week, in an address that signaled an admission to providence, the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, called on residents to take necessary precautions to avert dangers, while bracing up for heavy storms.

The alarm bell is already ringing. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has predicted the probability of 236 days of heavy rains, with the possibility of heavy storm. And the reason for the alarm is justified. July 10, last year is a sad reminder of the day a heavy downpour shut down Lagos.

“The implication is that Lagos shall experience a rainy season of about 234 to 238 days. A break is expected in-between, while the rains will start again in late August or early September, before the season finally ends in November 2012. So, the end of rainfall is November 12, with marginal error of two days between November 10 and 14,” Bello said.

The wave of torrential rainfall was last year extended to other states, including Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo and Rivers, alongside its attendant destruction of lives and property.

If July 10 is a distant memory, it was an unusual gust of strong wind that descended on Lagos in the morning of February 13, killing seven and wrecking havoc on so many buildings. The rainstorm pulled down the roofs of not less than 200 buildings.

However, the commissioner noted that government would not relent in ensuring the completion of ongoing rehabilitation and clearing of the canals, disclosing that the state is collaborating with the local governments in this regard.

“We want to assure residents that all the needed measures would be put in place to ensure a flood-free rainy season.”

General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the state “is on top of the situation.” For him, government will not be caught unawares unlike the previous season.

He said the administration of Babatunde Fashola “is taking the battle against flooding more seriously, at least to save residents from its grave cost.”

Osanyintolu, however, acknowledged that flood “is the main natural disaster Lagos metropolis is susceptible to.” And bearing this in mind, he said the state “has fine-tuned its early warning system, intensified sensitisation campaign against flood disaster, and taken multi-pronged approaches to contain its imminent crisis.”


CURIOUSLY, unlike previous attempts at warning residents, the state government is silent about the fate of some communities in the north-eastern part of the state. Last year, residents of over 10 communities were directed to relocate uplands in order to avoid the grave consequence of flood disaster.

The flood-prone communities listed as disaster zone areas include Ikosi-Ketu, Mile 12, Agiliti, Thomas Laniyan Estate, Owode-Onirin, Agboyi-Ketu, Owode Elede, Maidan and Isheri North.

But for residents of the affected areas, there is no cause for alarm, as they insist people at risk of flooding are those living on the bank of the river, which runs through the communities. A resident of Agiliti for three decades, Mrs. Victoria Omidiji, said “we are not suffering from the rain, it is the dam from the Ogun River, which is opened once in three years, that floods this area. And the dam was last opened in 2010. So, until 2013, we have no reason to fear.”

Omidiji, however, thanked Governor Fashola for coming to the rescue of the community with the construction of a bridge, which before now had been the nemesis in Agiliti. In the past, whenever there is heavy rainfall, the whole area is cut-off from Mile 12, while a canoe is used to come in or go out of the area.

“The only thing that can make us leave our homes in panic is only if God cancels the decision he made between himself and mankind that He would not use flood or water to destroy the world again like it was in the days of Noah. If that covenant does not fail, there is no rain that can destroy us,” Omidiji said.

Another resident, Ademola Ibrahim, described most of the areas designated as disaster zone as an island surrounded by water. “It is only those on the wetland that can be affected by rain water. Those who bought land close to the riverbank were lured because of the price.

“They also saw other people already inhabiting there, but they forgot that majority of them are from a particular tribe who live on water. These Itsekiris and Ilajes are comfortable with water and they built their house with palm fronds and wood, instead of blocks, meaning they are prepared for any eventuality without warning.”