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

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.”

https://guardian.ng/features/inside-the-toxic-graveyard-of-lagos/

https://eniaroo.blogspot.com.ng/2017/03/inside-toxic-graveyard-of-lagos.html

Sanity takes flight from Lagos’ Grease Land

• We are helpless, says Ladipo Market leader
• Govt plans car park, shelves relocation

By Tope Templer Olaiya, (Metro Editor) and Gbenga Salau
Once upon a time, Matori, Palm Avenue and Papa Ajao were the highbrow areas of Mushin Local Council of Lagos State. It was a scenic enclave tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and the riotous Mushin city centre, infamous for its incessant street combat. That was before Ladipo auto spare parts market berthed there.

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 expands their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.

The worth of the market is too enormous to evaluate. It is an informal market brimming with massive human and material resources. Directly or indirectly, there is a touch of Ladipo market in every Lagos home with an automobile.

An overgrown canal by the market

An overgrown canal by the market

Besides, the market also services the spare part needs of many car owners across Nigeria, as most of the parts are shipped into the country through the Lagos ports.

The market is rumored to generate about eight per cent of the state’s revenue yearly. There are over 10 million cars plying Lagos roads. Nearly 90 per cent of these cars are potential Ladipo Market clients. A 2015 statistics released by the Lagos State government stated that 78 per cent of the 1.8 million vehicles that were registered in the state were used ‘tokunbo’ vehicles.

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. The grease-soiled ground reminds any visitor that the market isn’t meant for suits and knotted ties. The regular work tools are a simple shirt (T-shirt preferably) on a pair of jeans and a boot or any footwear that must definitely cover your toes.

Though the business might look greasy and dirty, there are huge profits being churned out by the dealers of spare parts and used goods, cart pushers for hire, and most especially the throng of bystanders also known as freelancers, whose job it is to scout for prospective buyers and link them up traders for a commission.

Traders pouring to the expressway

Traders pouring to the expressway

However, the boisterous market has become a menace too hot for any administration in the state to handle. Countless shutdown to rein in traders for flouting sanitation laws, constituting environmental hazards and breaching public peace over leadership tussle, has proved futile.

Residents and road users within and around the market have resigned to fate after deploring severally in very strong terms the incessant gridlock occasioned by the deteriorating state of the road, and the abhorrent activities of traders and artisans in the market.

Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where uncountable numbers of 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 spray vehicles right on the road.

The gridlock experienced around the market is worsened when warehouses, which line the service lane at the Toyota bus-stop, receive batches of containers bringing imported spare-parts and scraps from the wharf. They are offloaded right on the road, making swift movement become cumbersome and near impossible.

Outraged at the chaos in the market, the state government has on a number of occasions, made efforts to return sanity to the place, and restore law and order, but all to no avail.

Measures taken in the past, which range from shutting down the market for lengthy periods, to compelling the traders to clean it up, and attempting to ease the traffic with security personnel, have all failed woefully.

Policemen stationed around to help matters and maintain law and order, have become an addition to the problems, as some of them now allocate parking lots to shoppers and motorists who want to fix their vehicles, for a fee.

lad-2

A motorist, Mr. Akeem Bello, expressed disappointment at government’s failure to take a firm stand on returning sanity to the market. He said whatever revenue the government may be getting from there notwithstanding, the comfort of other road users should never be sacrificed for that of the traders.

President, Ladipo Market Central Committee, Mr. Kinsley Ogunor, lamented that efforts to rid the service lane of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, have been unsuccessful, as the prevalent hardship in the country is still forcing artisans to convert parts of the road to mechanic workshops.

“I have mandated those operating there not to be parking vehicles on the side bordering the expressway. Sadly, the current hardship in the country is not helping matters, and that is why some of these problems cannot be completely eradicated. As a group, we will continue to do our best to ensure that sanity returns in the market,” he said.

Governor Ambode (right) discussing with the Sole Administrator of Mushin Local Council, Mr. Yinka Kazeem (middle) and treasurer of the market, Chief Cyril Onyema (left) during the governor's visit to the market.

Governor Ambode (right) discussing with the Sole Administrator of Mushin Local Council, Mr. Yinka Kazeem (middle) and treasurer of the market, Chief Cyril Onyema (left) during the governor’s visit to the market.

AND for many residents of Mushin and its environs, who have been troubled by the perennial traffic snarl around Ladipo Market, relief may have come finally, as the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday promised to build a multi-layer car park within the market, so that vehicles will not be parked on the roads, obstructing free flow of traffic.

The governor also promised to reconstruct the two major roads within the market, which are in deplorable state to further aid free flow of traffic around the area.Ambode, who was on an unscheduled visit to the market, was welcomed by jubilant traders, who must have been apprehensive that the governor was there to inspect the market with the intention to order its relocation.

But rather than announced the rumoured relocation of the market, immediately the governor announced the plan to reconstruct the deplorable roads and build a multi-layer car park, the traders applauded with claps and praise singing.

He asked the traders to cooperate with the various chairmen in the market, as he would be meeting with them next week to discuss modalities to uplift the market’s physical plan.

Over the years, commuting around the market has been a perennial headache because traders and customers usually park their vehicles on the road.With the governor’s new position, the call for the relocation or demolition of the market has now been buried.

“When I came here during the campaign, part of my promises was to construct the bad roads here. I should have come earlier because I have spent one and half years in office. I am not pleased with the state of the roads within this market. So we are going to reconstruct Alhaji Akinwunmi and Ladipo streets.

“I have noticed that some things are missing in this market. We will construct a multi-layer car park within this market. With this, all the cars will be at the same location. Only loading and offloading will take place on the road.

“To start with, we will commence the process for the construction with a stakeholders’ meeting next week. At the meeting, we will agree on the process and how the project will be done. We will rearrange the market so that we can commence the construction work next month.

http://guardian.ng/news/sanity-takes-flight-from-lagos-grease-land/

Inside the parlous Mile 12 Market…

Dying slowly from air pollution, traffic congestion, bad food

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor

WELCOME to Lagos, the Centre of Excellence and perhaps, ‘Disorder’. As the commercial capital of Africa’s most populous country, every inch of space in the 3,577km square area, including lagoons and creeks, is keenly contested for and an enormous asset to the state and local governments, traditional rulers, property owners, land grabbers, touts and just anybody strong enough to flex or peddle influence.
As such, managing the commercial activities of an approximate 20 million people should be the chief business of government, especially when many Lagosians approach every engagement from business perspective.
There are no fewer than 33 markets in Lagos, unarguably the largest number in a single city anywhere in the world. But with its limited land mass, one of the smallest in Nigeria, Lagos markets and traders face severe problems and at the same time constitute major challenges to smooth traffic, the environment as well as enforcement of law and order. No other site represents this better than the famous Mile 12 Market.
The market is the mecca for all fresh food items in Lagos and popular for retailing in farm produce like pepper, tomato, onions, vegetables, fruits, yam and other edible goods, which are all beautifully stacked in heaps of unending baskets. It is so popular far beyond the South West to the East and North Central states.
Undoubtedly, a blessing to the people of the state, as it helps them to get arrays of food items in small or large quantity, depending on their pockets; it also serves as a major source of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for government.

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Sadly, this over 40-year-old market of significance is located between Ketu and Mile 12, along Ikorodu Road, in Ikosi Isheri Local Council on a space barely wider than a standard football pitch. With more activities carried out outside the perimeter walls of the market, the neighbouring communities of Mile 12, Ikosi-Ketu, Agiliti, Thomas Laniyan Estate, Owode-Onirin, Agboyi, Ajegunle, Owodelede, Maidan, Isheri North Scheme and environs, are daily bearing the brunt of congestion in ways that have hugely disrupted the lives of residents and the environment.

Within its four walls, the market also grapples daily with its dilemmas. When the trouble is not about waste disposal challenges, environmental and traffic hiccups, it would be leadership tussles between shop owners and traders (mainly from the northern parts of the country) or fire outbreaks.

Of this mess, nothing irks Lagosians and disrupts the mega-city flow than the notorious perennial traffic snarls caused by traders, who, daily, display their goods on more than half of the road to the detriment of motorists and other road users. Not even the rehabilitation of Ikorodu road by the state government has stopped the notorious gridlock on the less than two kilometres stretch between Mile 12 and Ketu.

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On the corridor, it is estimated that at least 50,000 vehicles are caught in the traffic daily morning and evening. If every motorist spends an extra N500, roughly three litres of fuel daily above what he or she would normally spend, that is N25 million. In a week, that adds up to N175 million, N700 million in a month and in a year, an estimated N8.4 billion ($24 million) would have been wasted in the traffic on the Mile 12 market axis alone.

Apart from the money lost is the damage the gridlock does to the health of motorists. Recently, a new study revealed that long-term exposure to traffic pollution is associated with an 18 per cent increase in the risk of heart attacks. Air pollution is estimated to be responsible for a shocking 29,000 premature deaths a year in the United Kingdom – ten times the number of people killed in road accidents, according to the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, an advisory committee to the government.

Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College, London, says air pollution is now a major public health hazard in the UK. “In my view, because we all need to breathe, air pollution is second only to smoking in terms of hazards to public health,” he said.

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It is a known fact that air pollution in Lagos does not discriminate among social classes. Researches revealed that Lagos’ 20 million residents inhale daily a deadly mix of Particulate Matter (PM), Asbestos, Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NO), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and partially unburnt hydrocarbons.

These substances contribute to the death of seven million people – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure, according to new estimates by World Health Organisation (WHO), released recently. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

It is even more woes for residents of neighbouring areas, who are subjected to a hectic time coming out of their homes to access the Ikorodu road. Trucks filled to the brim with goods take up nearly all the available spaces in a long queue waiting for the chance to move into the market to have their goods offloaded.

They are also assaulted with heaps of nauseating market waste that take days to be cleared off the road. During rainy season, it is like a journey through the wilderness navigating the mess of waste and flooding pushed to the roads because of the blocked drainage. For the pollution and environmental hazards, it seems both the government and resident associations are at their wits end in addressing the dilemma.

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The untold story of food waste

Beyond the public nuisance of traffic gridlock the Mile 12 market has constituted to road users, is the story of food waste and its implication on the environment and consumers of spoilt food.

Recently at the market, it was a shouting match between a trader and three men identified as truck driver and motor-boys, which attracted throngs of onlookers. 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 and oranges.

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

To many of the bystanders, it was a common sight seeing truckloads 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 and oranges.

Food waste or food loss is food that is discarded or lost uneaten. As of 2015, 2.3 billion tons of food, about one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually. Loss and wastage occur in all steps in the food supply chain, and in developing countries, most loss occurs during production.

Mile 12 Market 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 neighbouring countries.

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 nostrils.

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At the unveiling of Danfoss food processing company in Lagos earlier in the year, the Sales Manager, North West & Central Africa Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Youssef Zitouni, revealed that Nigeria’s food waste has hit $750 billion yearly. It is not far-fetched that the hundreds of the Mile 12 merchants dump many of this food waste in Lagos.

According to him, food wastage in Nigeria is incredible as “80 per cent of food produced is wasted in Nigeria, contributing to 33 per cent of food waste in the world.”

He also hinted that for “every ton of food waste generated, 1.9t C02 eq/t is emitted to the environment,” insisting that this explains why half of Nigeria’s population face threats of hunger and starvation.

Alhaji Abdul Mohammed, General Secretary of the market, said the lack of storage facilities and food preservatives is the major cause of food waste at 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 per cent 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.”

A trader at the market, Ibrahim Haruna, wants government to take the transport sector seriously, if it is interested in developing the agriculture sector. “Nigeria is so blessed, we have no business having 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.

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Mile 12 Market, epicenter of bad food economy

Surprisingly, The Guardian observed that bad/spoilt food has its fans. Blame it on recession and you may be wrong, as the patrons of spoilt food is as old as the market. A trader, Ibrahim Musa, noted that it is difficult to estimate food loss, because there are buyers for every goods, whether good or bad. “There are those who specifically shop for spoilt or damaged goods because it is cheaper,” he said.

The state of the food has not deterred some buyers, particularly roadside food vendors. Baskets of rotten tomatoes, which the traders call ‘Esha’ in Yoruba, leave the market in droves, not to the waste truck, but to rickety vehicles waiting at the entrance of the market to dispatch to their subscribers. A small basin goes for N500 while fresh ones cost twice as much, or even more.

A seller, Mustapha Usman, said the low price is the attraction for buyers. “The tomatoes are cheap because they are bad. That is why people are buying it,” he said in smattering English.

Bad for the liver

A professor of food microbiology at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Olusimbo said consumers of decaying food expose themselves to numerous liver and kidney diseases. “The rotten food is a good medium for the growth of bacteria and fungi,” she said.

“They are dangerous to our health and cause diseases. Consumers can have renal failure, liver failure and it can also affect the intestine, causing diarrhoea and Septicemia, when the bacteria get into the blood stream.”

The university don said the bacteria could convert the Vitamin C in the tomato to Lactic Acid or Xanthurenic Acid, which “can hurt the liver.” She advised that one should eat fresh food as much as possible, adding that the local councils should ensure the good quality of food sold in the markets.

“That is why we pay taxes to government. There should be food inspectors monitoring the quality of food. This is the kind of situation that leads to epidemics.”

7

Foreign collaborations with Mile 12 Market beckons

There have been some international interests lately, with the show of intention by the United Kingdom (UK) to support the Lagos State government in its quest to develop the market to international standard.

The development, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), James Wharton, said is in line with UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)’s aids programmes for Nigeria, during a recent official visit to the market.

Wharton’s trip was to assess the extent of works to be carried out at the market in line with the Lagos State government’s plans to restructure the market.

The United Kingdom spends about £500 million in aids for Nigeria annually through DFID aids programmes. The visit, according to Wharton, was also to look out for areas of possible investment in the market.

Wharton, who was received at the market by the Chairman, Mile 12 Market Management Committee and Chairman Perishable Food Stuff Market Association, Haruna Muhammed and other executive members, noted that the market offered lots of investment potential, but added that a lot more work needed to be done to ensure it delivered what the people expected from it.

He added that the UK government would play significant role to support the market men and women to add value to their produce.

While addressing Wharton and his team, Muhammed said the investment opportunity by UK would bring a lot of relief to the market, adding that the market had never benefited from government assistance since its existence.

“Over 40 years of its existence, there had never been any government’s assistance, we need assistance from both government and the World Bank,” Muhammed said.

 

Inside the parlous Mile 12 Market…

 

No dirge for victims of Synagogue building collapse, two years on

• Church keeps mum on remembrance
• Hoteliers bemoan losses
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It is exactly two years since 116 people died at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Lagos, when one of the ancillary buildings collapsed.

The six-storey guesthouse belonging to the church, which was under construction in the Ikotun area of Lagos collapsed, killing over 100 people, 85 of whom were South African worshippers.

The Guardian yesterday observed that the church seems to have given an unofficial closure to the tragedy. Unlike last year when Prophet Temitope Joshua, founder of the church, held a memorial service in honour of the victims, there was no dirge for the departed , whom Joshua had two years ago described as ‘Martyrs of Faith’ during yesterday’s service.

The collapsed building

Mum was the word during church service held yesterday and also on the social media pages of the church. On Joshua’s official Twitter account, @SCOANTBJoshua, which has over 146,000 followers, it was last updated on Saturday, September 10, with the following quote: “Nobody is too good or too bad to qualify for God’s grace – T.B. Joshua”.

The Facebook page of the church, TB Joshua Ministries, which has nearly 2.5 million followers, was regularly updated yesterday with proceedings from the service, particularly testimonies and messages of the Prophet; yet no mention of the tragedy or prayers for the victims. Attempts by The Guardian to get an official reaction met a brick wall as church officials refused commenting on the memorial.

At the first anniversary of the unfortunate incident, which held simultaneously in Nigeria and South Africa, Joshua had maintained that the victims, many of whom had visited the church to seek spiritual help and were staying at the guesthouse before it collapsed, were on an appointment with God when they met their death and therefore believes they did not die in vain.

Prophet TB Joshua ministering

Prophet TB Joshua ministering

This has, however, not dissuaded the Lagos State government from seeking prosecution of the contractors that handled the building of the collapsed structure.

After exhaustive legal fireworks between the state coroner and lawyers representing the church spanning many months, the case was eventually filed before an Ikeja High Court, where Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd and the trustees of Synagogue Church – are facing a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

At the last adjourned hearing of the case on June 22, 2016 before judges’ yearly three months vacation shut down the courts, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, told Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo at the Ikeja High Court that the auditorium of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) did not have a valid building permit.

When former President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site of the collapsed building in 2014

When former President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site of the collapsed building in 2014

Hoteliers in the Ikotun-Egbe axis area are, however, bemoaning their losses due to low occupancy rate , blaming the situation on the Synagogue building collapse, which in turn affected influx of worshippers to the church.

Before the accident, thousands of Nigerians and foreigners alike thronged the church in search of miracle healings for various afflictions. The miracle-seekers, all of whom could not see Prophet Joshua in one day, took accommodation in hotels in the area.

But since the collapse, the throngs have thinned out, while the hotels have lost revenue running into billions of naira. According to an official of the Pilgrims Hotels Association of Nigeria, Chief Jerry Omorodion, the total number of bed spaces of different categories for all the hotels in the Ikotun area is about 3,500.

Before the accident, the hotels record nearly 100 per cent occupancy rate due to the church programmes, which hold three times a week. Sadly, the occupancy rates now fluctuate between 10 and 20 per cent all weeklong.

Sy 1

Manager of Phonix Pilgrims Hotel in the church’s vicinity, Paul Ogbeide, noted that since Joshua resumed ministering after his retreat following the tragic incident, religious tourists from across the world especially from Africa and Asia are returning in their thousands to attend the weekly deliverance services at the SCOAN.

“From Thursdays, our rooms are fully booked by foreign visitors who stay for one week to one month while those visiting from different parts of Nigeria stay about two days.

“Aside hospitality operators, these religious tourists affect the livelihood of many people positively and various sectors benefit from their financial resources,” Ogbeide explained.

A resident, David Efiong, who makes a living by connecting visitors with hoteliers, added that banks, currency changers and market men and women in Ikotun and its environs also depend solely on these religious tourists for survival.

synagogue

Ogbeide, however, recalled that the tragic incident of September 2014 had nearly brought the bubbling activities in the area to a standstill due to loss of patronage.

“The number of church visitors, who come with dollars, euros, pounds and other foreign currencies to enrich the local economy has reduced drastically. Many hoteliers converted their guesthouses to residential apartments because they thought government would seize the church. But today, normalcy has gradually returned to SCOAN,” he said.

According to an hotel booking website, http://www.hotels.ng, areas surrounding the popular church in Ikotun have a total of 110 hotels.

 

No dirge for victims of Synagogue building collapse, two years on

Inside the shimmering state of Lagos

• Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts
• Govt, communities worry over consequences
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It was a tragedy too many when last Wednesday, an unidentified woman met her untimely death at Kosofe bus-stop in Mile 12 area of Lagos State when she was electrocuted while crossing the expressway.On her way to Mile 12 market, she was attempting to cross the road when unknowingly touched the railing dividing the highway, whic h had contact with a faulty electrical pole and she died instantly.

That was the fourth such incident at the same spot in the last three months, especially since the Light Up Lagos project initiative by the Akinwunmi Ambode-administration installed streetlights across the length and breath of the state.

According to an eyewitness, “a red flag was even tied on the rail to warn pedestrians against crossing from that spot. The woman must have been unaware of the danger and touched the pole,” he said.From early this year, the state governor Akinwunmi Ambode had embarked on the Light Up Lagos project in the first phase of an ambitious agenda to make Lagos State a 24-hour economy, where production, exchange, distribution and consumption take place round the clock.

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Sometimes also called ‘the city that never sleeps’ Ambode hopes Lagos would join economic powerhouse cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Bangkok, Seoul, Shanghai and Chicago, where the 24-hour economy is driving productivity, building strong institutions, improving quality of life, environmental sustainability and infrastructure development.

Relying on the five gas-powered Independent Power Projects at Akute, Alausa, Mainland, Island and Lekki, which are supplying energy to the streetlights and other public facilities, it is now smooth night-driving through Third Mainland Bridge, Ikeja, Ojodu-Berger to Iyana-Oworonshoki, Murtala Muhammed Airport Road, Okota through Isolo to Ikotun, Mushin to Onipetesi, Agege and Sango.

With Lagos nights now brilliantly lit-up, the dread of driving after dusk is giving way to some ease , especially in areas like Ejigbo, Ipaja, Ayobo, Ishefun, Aiyetoro, Oshodi among others.A resident living in Oshodi, Mr. Solomon Enilolobo, said the streetlight on Airport Road has addressed the problem of insecurity in the area.

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

To another resident of Ipaja, Ibrahim Mucas, “anyone who loves beauty would appreciate the streetlights in this part of Lagos.“But my worry is that the hoodlums may tamper with them. You can see how they have vandalized aluminum and steel railings on pedestrian bridges.My plea is for the government that has begun this beautiful work to also provide security that would check such vandalism,” he said.

To a community leader in Okota, Alhaji Olalekan Bashir, communities must show more than passing interest in the project.“It is a good thing we are beginning to see the dividends of democracy in this area. A way of sustaining this development is to engage community policing to protect these state infrastructure.

“The Neighbourhood Watch, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the police should be empowered to prevent cable vandals from stealing streetlight cables in any part of the state.”

lit

Another community leader in Ejigbo, Christopher Emmanuel, noted that commercial bus drivers should be sensitised on safe driving so that they don’t destroy the streetlight poles through reckless driving.“There was a time the governor apprehended a Danfo driver on this road for driving one-way. That picture sent a strong message that the era of driving recklessly is over.

“More of those who willfully break the law, destroy public utilities like cables, poles, roads should be given stiff penalties to deter others,” he said.Meanwhile, the Lagos the Lagos State government has lamented the gross abuse of public infrastructure provided for communities.

According to the Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, government has been bothered that some residents were abusing its infrastructure. He told The Guardian at the weekend, that the present administration was passionate about of inclusive governance and sustainable infrastructural development.

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

“Over time, government has observed gross abuse of the state government infrastructure in our communities which necessitated the decision to embark on inaugurating the management committee, saddled with the responsibility of managing and maintaining community projects across the state.

“I just chaired a meeting with Neighbourhood Watch commanders, to work out modalities on how to effectively combat criminality and ensure obedience to government laws in the state. I can assure you, violators and vandals won’t go unpunished.”Bamigbetan implored Community Development Associations (CDAs) and Community Development Committees (CDCs) to partner with the government in developing their areas by being the government’s eyes and ears in safeguarding public infrastructure from neglect, abuse and vandalism.

 

Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts in Lagos

Meet Gbenga Abiola, youngest council boss in Nigeria @ 28

Governor Ambode congratulating Gbenga Abiola

Governor Ambode congratulating Gbenga Abiola

He looks calm but he exudes confidence that belies his young age. He speaks so fluently and eloquently. For him, service comes naturally.

But he is only 28 years old. On Monday, June 13, 2016, he stood out among his peers. He had just been sworn-in as the Sole Administrator of Agege Local Government by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

Gbenga Abiola was the cynosure of all eyes at the event. He was the beautiful bride. Everyone wanted to talk to him, particularly the media. At 28, Gbenga was perhaps the youngest ever council boss in the state and of course one of the ladies at the event said, “so cute, he is the most handsome among the lot.”
As the boss of Agege Local Government, Gbenga has a heavy burden on his young shoulder but he is confident of delivering the goods. “I have confidence in God and I’m equally confident that my political leaders are there for me. I also have confidence in the staff of the local government. By the special grace of God, we will deliver,” he said humbly.

Gbenga had his primary education at the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Nursery and Primary School, Epe and proceeded to both Government College, Ketu, Epe and Folbim High School for his secondary education.

He attended the University of Lagos for his tertiary education graduating with honours as a Bachelor of Science degree holder in Psychology. He had his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Ekiti.

He was Director, Featland Children School; Internet/Business Strategist for e-Script and until his appointment as a Sole Administrator, Special Assistant on New Media and Publicity to the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.

His hobbies include: strategic communication, table tennis, football and high jumping. He is a die hard supporter of FC Barcelona of Spain.‎

Burying the ghosts of January 27 bomb blast 14 years after

Chi Limited constructs road project in Ajao Estate
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
Today marks the 14th year since the January 27, 2002 bomb blast occurred that rocked the Ikeja Military Cantonment in Lagos. The history was horrendous in the chequered history of Lagos and the entire nation.
As the bombs exploded, the city was thrown into confusion. Every part of the metropolis felt the pangs of the explosion. The farther away one was from the site, the more it appeared the blast was happening next door.
It was like an apocalyptic scene on that Black Sunday 14 years ago. At about 5:15pm, triggered by a fire outbreak in the nearby Mammy Market, high caliber bombs stored in the armoury of the cantonment began to detonate. There were loud explosions in quick successions. Thousands became homeless after fleeing from their homes; many others lost their means of livelihood. The restless city of Lagos suddenly went to sleep.
However, the most horrific consequence was the human casualties that resulted from the disaster. Till date, no one knows the exact number of persons that lost their lives, though no fewer than 1,000 people drowned and perished in the Oke-Afa canal concealed by water hyacinth, while attempting to escape the uncertain calamity.

Cenotaph for victims of January 27 bomb blast

Cenotaph for victims of January 27 bomb blast

At long last after several years of waiting, victims of the bomb blast have not died in vain. First they got a befitting well-managed cenotaph built at the mass burial site, then the street adjoining the canal was renamed January 27, a Primary Healthcare Centre in Ejigbo was named January 27 and in honour of the victims, a link bridge connecting Ejigbo to Ajao Estate was built and also named January 27 as a fitting acknowledgment of the sacrifices of those who died, to keep their memories in perpetuity.

The ghosts of the tragedy were finally buried and Ajao Estate never remained the same. The once quiet estate lost its serenity to the flowing traffic from Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Isolo up to Iba, Ojo and other parts of Lagos, shortening travel time to Airport Road and Oshodi. The estate was not ready for the influx of motorists plying through the area. No sooner was the link bridge constructed before major access roads began to pave way to constant pressure.

Chi Limited, a fast-moving consumer goods company that provides products in the diary, beverages and snacks sectors, came to the rescue of its host community by constructing one of the hitherto most dilapidated roads within the estate which had been a nightmare to motorists and had reduced the positive impact the bridges were meant to engender.

The newly constructed road in Ajao Estate

The newly constructed road in Ajao Estate

The construction of Ati Okoye Street, which gulped several millions of Naira from design to completion, is a laudable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative that has brought huge relief to thousands of road users. The project, built to modern standard approved by the Lagos State government under strict supervision by its Engineers, is equipped with solid drainage, pedestrian walkway and streetlights.

Apart from this new construction, Chi Limited has gone further to rehabilitate the main access road inwards the bridges coming from Asa Afariogun Street through Eleganza junction down to Chivita Avenue as well as part of Ajibade Babatola so there is a ring of good, motorable road in that part of the estate.

Commenting on the company’s efforts and plans, the Executive Director, Mr. Jerome Shogbon said the company decided to take up the project in response to the needs of the community. “As a responsible company, we embarked on this quality construction work in furtherance of our CSR gestures within our host community and in keeping with our public avowment to partner with the state government by constructing the road to complement the Ajao Estate-Ejigbo link bridges which were commissioned by former Governor Fashola exactly two years ago.

“The road will definitely shorten travel time by more than 50 per cent. As can be seen on site at present, contractors are still busy erecting electricity poles as the plan is to have the whole area well lit with streetlights to be powered from our power plant which runs on gas 24 hours.”

Chi

Narrating the ordeals faced before executing the project, the company’s Head of Administration, Mr. Oyekanmi Onagbola, said accessing the Right of Way (RoW) posed some problems. “To do community work is difficult, people don’t understand you. The community is the biggest beneficiary of this project, yet they posed the biggest obstacle while work was on.

“For example, they installed two gates at different ends of the street, which had to be demolished for the road work to get done. But they resisted stiffly before the contractors could demolish and do their work to government’s specification. Same problem we had with them at the final stage of the construction when final coat of asphalt was to be applied and there was need to close the road for 48 hours.”

The road was constructed by a Lebanese firm, Al-Mansur Construction Company.

 

Burying the ghosts of January 27 bomb blast