Managing PSP and Visionscape without politics

Visionscape

A directive the other day by the Lagos State House of Assembly to local council authorities in the state to re-engage the Private Sector Partnership (PSP) operators to take over from their competitor and successor, Visionscape should be treated as a serious corporate governance, rather than political issue, after all.

The starting point is that authorities in Lagos should freeze politics at this juncture and streamline the modalities for refuse collection and disposal in the state to avoid unnecessary bickering on legacy issues. Indeed, such a conflict would not be in the public interest of the economic capital of West Africa, Lagos.

Whatever may be the misgivings in some quarters, the interest of the public should be paramount. Lagos State has attained an enviable height in matters of environmental sanitation that should not be allowed to wane. The authorities should strive to build on the successes already recorded for better and improved services.

Though, the tempo may vary from one administration to the other, the undying consciousness that solid waste management is a major problem in Lagos must be sustained and tackled with unrelenting vigour.

There are no two ways about it if the city must be habitable with the teeming population. That is why no administration should allow Lagos to return to the era of filth and garbage dump anyhow.

The directive by the Lagos State House of Assembly against Visionscape is understandable in view of the apparent failure of the company to evacuate heaps of refuse promptly all over the city, a situation that has embarrassed Lagosians and indeed, the authorities.

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, reportedly gave the directive the other day at the plenary session after a motion under “urgent matter of public importance” raised by Gbolahan Yishawu, representing Eti-Osa Constituency II on heaps of refuse scattered all over Lagos.

Specifically, Yishawu had lamented that the presence of heaps of refuse all over the state was not so before Visionscape was introduced. Besides, the House said that it was not consulted before the sanitation firm started operation in the state. This new enthusiasm of the Lagos Assembly is understandably political. Why did the Assembly wait until this time before this ‘sound and fury’? It is time to leave politics out of this purely governance issue.

In this regard, it is instructive that Visionscape assured stakeholders that it would continue to fulfill the terms of the service contract awarded by the Lagos State Government, which is to collect residential solid waste management services across the state. Which is why we feel the Lagos State legislative directive to stop a going concern should be handled with some circumspection.

It was unbecoming to have heaps of refuse everywhere in the city given that since 2007 when a new government assumed power in the state, waste disposal was raised as a major challenge of government.

The trend promoted by the last administration whereby garbage trucks operated by PSP were deployed to all the nooks and crannies of Lagos to evacuate refuse greatly changed the sanitation condition in the city. The trend saw a new Lagos; indeed, something that has never been seen in the city.

Therefore, it was unimaginable that under the Akinwunmi Ambode administration, rather than improving on what has been laid, Lagos tended to revert to the old jungle city of filth and garbage.

The introduction of Visionscape by the current administration was understood as an attempt to modernise waste management and make things better. That is the reason for some alignment of forces between the old and the new setups if that will lead to efficiency in waste collection and disposal in the state.

Lagos is fast becoming a mega city generating mega refuse by the hours. Disposal of the garbage is a big task that should not be taken for granted in the garb of politics. No matter what, the city should be kept clean and achieving this depends on the strategy adopted.

The recent fire outbreak at the Olusosun Dumpsite in Ojota, Lagos, showed the danger and adverse effect of dumping the refuse indiscriminately.

For weeks, the entire skyline of Ojota was enveloped by thick black smoke that choked and constituted health hazard to residents and travellers on the highway. The authorities had no choice than to close the dumpsite.

Now that the state plans to evacuate 5,000 tones of refuse to the new Epe landfill daily, both the PSP and Visionscape should be involved. It is good enough that the state is set to carry out the exercise under a public/private partnership involving Visionscape Sanitation Solutions, under the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI).

The PSP should collect the refuse and have it dumped from where Visionscape takes over evacuation to Epe. That way, Visionscape would be a viable partner.

Authorities in Lagos should also consider waste recycling using private companies. All that is needed is for the right environment to be created to facilitate the activity. The idea of waste to wealth has been canvassed for a long time and the time to realise it is now.

On the whole, the Lagos State Assembly should consider itself a privileged legislature in an ambitious cosmopolitan city being guided to be an economic powerhouse in Africa. So, its role should be more than issuing a meretricious political directive to a sensitive agency without a proper amendment bill to guide such a policy thrust.

There should be a more comprehensive examination and study of what should work for the Lagos environment and indeed the public good in Nigeria’s former capital. In the main, partisan politics and sentimentality should be taken out of this purely governance issue. That is the only way the baby would not be thrown away with the bathwater.

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