Anger, tension as Lagos residents protest parking of LAWMA trucks by roadsides …Raise the alarm on possible epidemic
Residents of Old Ota Road, in the Agbado Oke Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State took to the streets on Friday to protest against the return of refuse trucks to the road.
The residents, including schoolchildren, displayed placards with different inscriptions to express anger over the pollution caused by the trucks owned by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority and operators of the Private Sector Participants (PSP).
Some of the inscriptions read, ‘Our children are falling sick every day,’ ‘Carbon dioxide and methane gasses cause cancer of the lungs,’ ‘Save our children from cholera and Lassa fever,’ ‘Flies and maggots are living with us, save our health,’ among others.
One of the protesters, Sulaimon Iroko, said the trucks surfaced on the road about a month ago, adding that those who operated food business were shutting down operation because of the pollution caused by the trucks.
He said, “We woke up about a month ago only to see the LAWMA and PSP refuse trucks on our road. They said the government told them to stop dumping refuse at the Ojota landfill and Igando dump, and they should be coming to our area.
“We told them that our council chairman was not aware and when we asked our community leaders, they also denied knowledge of such development.
“We had decided to let go until about two weeks ago when we saw that the trucks had multiplied and more than 50 of them would sometimes queue up for days on the road.
“Our community now stinks and children are falling sick regularly. There are about six primary and secondary schools on that road; schoolchildren resumed about a week ago. They are also becoming affected as some of them have started taking ill and their parents are noticing it.
“People who have houses on the road have been affected as well. This is because of the filth water that flows from the road into houses. Motorists and commuters passing on the road cover their nostrils because of the horrible odour.”
Another protester, Ahmed Musa, said the trucks were also responsible for recent accident on the road.
“Accidents have been happening on that road because they are taking over the road. People selling food can no longer open their shops. We cannot allow this to continue. They should find another route to the dump. We suggest the use the Oja Oba area to access the dump and then they could use Oke Odo as exit.
“We also want the government to tell us if they indeed authorised the return of the trucks because nobody knew they were coming until they showed up,” he said.
An environmentalist, Pelumi Lawal, asked that the government to relocate the dump.
He said, “The offloading of municipal solid waste at Oke Odo landfill should be stopped because it is exposing people to the unfriendly environmental practices of the PSP trucks, which queue up in numbers from day till dawn, releasing methane and awful carbon dioxide gasses to the atmosphere. This has altered the environmental integrity of our community and may soon lead to outbreak of diseases because the aerobic decomposition of these waste breeds maggots in their thousands right on the street.
“The area was a dump site during the time of former Governor Fashola. That was 10 years ago. But when people fought it, the governor relocated the dump. We heard that the new government plans to use dumps in other parts of the state for estates and make the poor in Oke Odo to suffer for it. Development and lives, which is more important?”
Our correspondent saw maggots dropping on the road from one of the trucks.
PUNCH Metro learnt that some of the PSP operators held a meeting with the residents on Friday.
The General Manager of LAWMA, Mr Segun Adeniji, confirmed the use of the area.
He noted that the government was taking measures to handle the environmental issues arising from the use of the area.
“Yes, we are using the place for now and we are taking precautions to manage the environmental issues, including the use of chemicals,” he said. Punch