Over the past few weeks, numerous markets in Lagos State have experienced intermittent closures and reopenings under the purview of the Ministry of Environment and the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). While it is undeniable that these actions are warranted, the critical question remains: What comes next after the reopening of these markets?
Markets often find themselves synonymous with significant refuse generation, a situation exacerbated by traders and patrons discarding waste haphazardly, especially along the roadside in proximity to refuse collectors.
The recent collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Environment and LAWMA have signified a departure from the status quo, sending a clear message that the old ways will no longer suffice. Individuals, particularly traders, must assume full responsibility for their immediate environments, or face consequences.
Nevertheless, the government should implement a central strategy to address the issue of refuse management, consistent with the Circular Economy campaign. The time has come to translate this concept into practical actions that benefit all Lagosians.
Lagos State and LAWMA should design an effective waste evacuation model for these markets, ensuring seamless management. For instance, at Mile 12 Market, where perishable items abound, exploring ways to utilize this waste to enrich soil or create consumables for livestock could significantly reduce waste and enhance resource utilization.
Certain markets, such as Computer Village, Alaba, Aswani, and Yaba, deal with products that pose unique waste management challenges, particularly electronic-related waste and clothing. We currently lack a comprehensive model to address these challenges, and it is imperative that we find solutions to these pressing issues.
The distinctive nature of each market necessitates tailored approaches to optimize daily waste production. Strategies should be developed for markets specializing in motor parts, fashion and accessories, furniture, metals, and other goods.
Support for the government’s actions is essential, especially considering that many traders have had the opportunity to witness the cleanliness of foreign streets during their travels for imports or pilgrimages. It is time we aimed to maintain our own roads in a pristine condition.
Despite the significant government investment in LAWMA and franchisees throughout the state, the availability of waste truck collectors remains insufficient to serve these markets daily. The resulting proliferation of waste and intense competition for waste collection services could lead to weekly closures of commercial spaces due to waste management challenges.
The inclusion of LAWMA’s Summer Academy for children in the Lagos State school curriculum is a viable solution. Disseminating this training content in classrooms will enable children to educate their parents, instigating attitudinal changes within the wider community.
In addition to penalties for waste mismanagement in residential and commercial areas, a stakeholder forum on effective waste management should be organized to derive lessons that can transform waste into wealth. Advocacy and the promotion of attitudinal change across all societal strata must continue, with the aim of positioning Lagos as one of the cleanest states in Nigeria and Africa at large.
The journey is ongoing, and the advocacy persists, but Lagos has the potential to earn accolades for its cleanliness and environmental responsibility.