Residents berate, support sanitation’s cancellation
Lagos residents and visitors had been used to and had adequately adjusted their activities and programmes to fit into the monthly environmental sanitation exercise held on the last Saturday of the month, which restricted movements until 10am.
This was to enable residents clean up their environments/surroundings. And it was effective while it lasted.
The restriction also enabled Community Development Associations (CDAs) to hold meetings and discuss issues of common interest, which somehow impacted positively on the state.
But the curbing of movements was challenged as unconstitutional, and the High Court agreed.
The state government lost its battle to validate the restriction of movements for three hours and scrapped the programme, following the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, which on November 9, this year abolished it, ordering the state government to forthwith, not restrict movement of people in the state on the day.
This has attracted a mix bag of reactions among residents.
Those in support of government’s decision said it would enable most residents, especially the petty traders, the freedom to carry out their economic activities on the day, which hitherto were restricted.
But some residents who disapproved of the decision said the environment is likely to be dirtier than it used to be even when the sanitation exercise in force.
Daniel Osinachi, a trader in Ijegun area of Alimosho local council, who lauded the decision, said it is a good beginning for the state government.
“In every local council, there is a sanitation department manned by sanitary/health officers. Rather than educate the people on the importance of keeping their environment clean always, they often take laws into their own hands and barge into houses all in the name of inspection, seal houses and sometimes arrest occupants.
“Government does not require any form of law to ensure the sanitation of the environment, because people in their right sense should be able to clean up their surroundings without being forced to do so.
“This, also include the weekly market environmental sanitation that occurs every Thursday,” he noted.
Osinachi added that the environmental monitoring taskforce team, which comprises the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) brigade officials, uses the opportunity to extort money from traders by locking up their stalls and places of business.
Zulie Okino, a banker, however, expressed displeasure over the cancellation, saying the decision would take the state back to the period of living in disgusting environment.
She stated: “The law was enforced because Lagos was like a slum; people didn’t clear their environment, especially the drainages, except on environment sanitation days.
“We can all attest to the positive results, as we lived in a clean environment. But now that it has been canceled, I wonder what the outcome would be like.”
Niyi Oluwafemi said he saw the exercise as “a call to fasten our belts on environment cleanliness.”
He recalled: “Over years when we observed the sanitation every last Saturday of the month, we still discovered that not every area in the environment remained clean after the exercise, because there was no taskforce to monitor.
“Most streets are now cleaner like never before. I was amused when I got home and heard that the environmental taskforce came and ensured cleanliness around the street.”
For Yinka Bidemi, the exercise was really good, “because as a trader at Ladipo auto parts market, we sanitise our environment every Thursday and also on the last Saturday. Even if do not wish to do it, you will be forcefully be involved by the market council.
“Therefore, the last Saturday environmental sanitation termination is a blessing in disguise to help get more sales to help save family condition in this harsh economy.”
Abosede Emmanuel could not take a position, “because the strategy will surely help our business, but we are too ignorant of the other side of it.
“Nigerians would always act as Nigerians; no one will like to come out to work once they wake up to go to their personal job, forgetting that the sanitation was cancelled for a reason.
“Even when the law was still active, youth in various communities seize the opportunity to play football when cleaning is supposed to be on,” she recounted.
Popoola Babs believed cancelling the exercise is not actually a good idea, as it was held only once in a month.
He stated: “So, I think it is still preferable. I feel it will not favour our health, because there is no time to work as a community to clean the environment again.
“We have most of the days to work, but just those few hours in a month went a long way and we seem not to know.”
Ola Akinfenwa, a civil servant, said considering the present economic situation in the country, it was not appropriate to restrict peoples’ movement for three hours in a mega city like Lagos at a time they should be pursuing their commercial activities.
He recalled that after the sanitation exercise, there used to be traffic everywhere, because people tended to move out at the same time immediately the exercise was over.
Taofeeq Ayinla said: “ I support government’s decision, because it would give people time to go about their economic activities.
“That notwithstanding, government would require some level of enforcement to ensure that people comply with environmental sanitation laws.
“Ordinarily, it is the nature of man to disobey law. Telling people to clean their environment without enforcing it will be difficult, because some people are naturally dirty.”
“I am very happy with the decision,” said Saheed Shittu, adding: “I used to bring goods from the north. On sanitation days, I have to park at the expressway shortly before entering Lagos till the end of the exercise.
“The most painful is when you are bringing in perishable items that are meant to be sold very early in the market.
“By the time you arrive late to the market, you have to wait till the next day before you can sell. You will end up selling at a loss, because the next day will be Sunday.”
According to him, in the course of rushing to avoid the sanitation, so many vehicles get involved in accident.
The scrapping of the exercise has drastically reduced attendance at CDAs and other communal meetings held during the period, as residents now leave home early to engage in normal commercial and weekend/social activities.