"Let Us Pay Greater Attention To Our Environment", Fashola Enjoins Nigerians
• As Governor hands over 100 compactor trucks to PSP Operators
Jun 20, 2011 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Monday handed over 100 new compactor trucks to the Private Sector (PSP) Operators with a call on all Nigerians to pay greater attention to the environment around them in order to enhance the quality of their lives.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the handover ceremony which took place at the Olusosun Landfill in Ojota, said the quality of the environment goes a long way in determining not only the quality but also the life expectancy of the people living in such environment.
Describing our environment as "the biggest economy", Governor Fashola declared, "How we manage it will determine the quality of the life we live; it will determine our life expectancy".
"When we implore people to dispose of their wastes properly, to resist the temptation and impulse to dump refuse and plastics into drainages, these are appeals that go to the totality of securing our environment", the Governor said noting that refuse dumped in improper places eventually sip into the underground water which we drink.
Governor Fashola further explained, "Let us not forget that everything that we depend on, whether for food or for water, comes from how we use the land around us. If you pollute the land, it will go down to the ground water and it is that ground water that we will ultimately drink; it is that ground water that we use to farm and it is possible that that ground water will be ingested into our body with the toxin that will reduce or diminish the quality and longevity of our lives".
To Lagos residents, the Governor said, "When we ask you , therefore, not to urinate in the open, when we ask you not to defecate in the open, to dump your refuse in appropriate places and not in the drainages or water bodies, we do so because we care, not because we dislike you".
Challenging the State's environmental sanitation enforcement agencies to "increase the tempo of enforcement and compliance", Governor Fashola declared, "The core of our healthcare delivery system rests in preventive healthcare. Preventive Healthcare starts from cleaning and maintenance of our environment rather than the curative capacity that exists in our hospitals".
According to the Governor, "What our hospitals are often challenged to deal with is about 25 to 30 percent of our healthcare plans in terms of curative capacity. What you and I can correct is the 60 to 70 percent that lies in the ability to prevent ourselves and our children from falling ill and a lot of it will be determined by how you and I respond to the challenges and management of the environment".
"It is in our hands to protect our environment, to protect our city, to protect our local governments. It is not right to dump refuse inside canals and then when it is rainy season, you expect government to come and collect it. In the first place, refuse do not belong in the canals and those who put them there must lead the process now to remove them. Every community, every local government and every village must rise together and join hands with us so that we can sustain and clean the State and make it worthy and livable not only for ourselves but for the generation that are coming behind us", the Governor said.
Going down memory lane on how the PSP operation started, Governor Fashola, who thanked the PSP operators "for their various sacrifices in the past and for their faith today", said, "I recall how this journey started with broken down trucks; trucks that Mrs. Anibaba has rightly described in her speech as waste themselves. I remember that even the media used to have a joke at us that they were refuse dispersal instead of refuse disposal trucks".
"But they kept faith, they persevered, they endured and today, this is the result", the Governor said adding that sometime last year when the operators complained of their inability to sustain repayment of the loans for their fairly used compactor trucks, the State Government promised to not only assist them in managing their loan obligations and interest payments but also intervene and enable them acquire new trucks on a pricing level and financial model that is sustainable for their business.
The Governor expressed joy that since the Private Public Partnership initiative began with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), there has been no report of loan payment default both for the BRT owners and Red and Yellow Taxis adding that owners of the first BRT buses have completed payment and have bought new buses while taxi drivers are also thriving and expanding their business. "I expect that we should not expect anything different from you as we go along this business", he told the PSP truck beneficiaries.
On the documentary currently being aired on the BBC concerning people scavenging at refuse dumps in Lagos, Governor Fashola declared, " In my view, it is showing the possibilities of why we are here. Those men and women you see at the refuse dumps are not there because of want of something to do. They see an economy there. Our responsibility as a Government is to regulate how they function; to provide them with safety gadgets, gloves and masks to ensure that they carry on that business because that is a forerunner to recycling and sorting waste that leads to better opportunities and prosperity in the economy".
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Titi Anibaba, recalled the adhoc refuse collection arrangements in the past by local government councils in the State which resulted in the mountains of refuse all over the city, expressing joy that today, with the use of compactor trucks, Lagos has become one of the cleanest cities in the world.
She thanked Governor Fashola for his commitment to the PSP arrangement and continuous intervention of his administration in ensuring that the operation is updated with new technologies praying that the time would come when refuse would be a scarce commodity in the State.
Also speaking, President of Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria (AWAN), Mr. Adegboyega Adepitan, paid glowing tribute to Governor Fashola for his intervention in providing the 100 new compactor trucks, the purchase of which, according to him, would have been impossible as no bank was willing to risk the loan of N7 billion needed to purchase 600 new compactors.
"The virtues of a responsible, responsive and pragmatic government with dedicated vision was displayed by the quick intervention of Lagos State Government under the leadership of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), after the consideration of the AWAM Executive briefing on the challenges", the AWAM President said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Managing Director of LAWMA, Mr. Ola Oresanya thanked Governor Fashola for his commitment to the cleanliness of the State saying that it takes an extra political will to buy back the loans of the operators and to provide them with other incentives such as annual training adding that the Governor has approved a competition among the operators which will give a winner a new truck from the Government free of charge as well as further training Overseas.
Also present at the occasion were the Managing Director/Chief Executive Offficer of Stanbic IBTC, Mrs.Sola David-Bortha, Executive Director TATA Motors, Mr. Sudeep Ray, former Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, top officials of LAWMA and Executive members of PSP operators as well as other top government functionaries.