Lagos Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday signed a sweeping environmental bill into law, concluding a year-long elaborate plan to overhaul the state’s environmental, waste management and handling practices.
The bill passed into law by the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday, harmonises all existing environmental laws and takes on other concerns that were not expressly addressed in the pre-existing laws governing the environment.
The new development became necessary following an inter-ministerial committee report presented to the state executive council in March, 2016 after several local and foreign experts were commissioned to carry out extensive tests on the current conditions of the Lagos environment.
The results which showed significant environmental degradation and alarming levels of pollution in the water, air and physical environment of Lagos, galvanised the decision that the solid waste management system needed to be fixed.
The law will also drive the adoption of innovative technology to tackle existing environmental problems specific to the state, allowing for private sector participation in the management of the environment therefore opening the sector to all investors including foreign and domestic.
The law gives the Lagos Waste Management Agency, LAWMA, the authority to review and regulate all waste management activities while a rebranded Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, which will be transformed into the Environmental Sanitation Corps Agency will spearhead enforcement of the stringent penalties imposed on defaulters.
Under the new dispensation, the Lagos State Environmental Corps, LASECORPS, will have its performance evaluations and remuneration tied directly to the number of actionable fines it issue for non-compliance. The Environmental Corps will be supported by the Public Utilities Monitoring Assurance Unit, PUMAU, a unit that will have oversight responsibility by using innovative monitoring tools to ensure that new standards are effectively enforced.
The state government recently announced the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, a scheme to
create value and empower those at the bottom of the value chain. It offers citizens opportunities of being part of the solution by taking responsibility for their immediate environment while solving the challenge of poor waste management in their communities.
The central focus of the initiative also include a poverty alleviation scheme that will create 27,000 new jobs and almost 500,000 indirect jobs.
Governor Ambode expressed satisfaction that the bill has finally seen the light of the day.
“I am delighted that our bill has been signed into law. Under this initiative we have worked collectively to make laws that will result in historic environmental victories. Our major environmental laws are outdated and do not address our present-day challenges,”
“We exist in a world where the protection and preservation of public health and the environment have evolved and are primarily driven by data -we cannot compete if our laws are based on obsolete information.”
The governor commended the State House of Assembly for coming together despite the push back and disagreements. Saying “I know that the process of change may seem daunting at first but ultimately this shows that we can achieve a lot on our own and join others for the common good of Lagos State.
“We have taken everyone along the value chain into consideration from the existing PSPs, to the cart pushers and the scavengers on the landfills.
“Everyone will be accommodated under this new environmental scheme. We are creating 27,500 new jobs, deploying over 500 vehicles over the concession period, we are bringing in the expertise of world renowned environmental groups to construct multiple engineered landfills and transform our water and wastewater treatment sectors.”
Present at the bill signing were the private sector, SEC regulated trustees who will manage the Environmental Trust Fund including FBN Merchant Bank, Stanbic IBTC, United Capital PLC, STL Trustees Ltd, United Trustees Ltd, Camden Yards Ltd, Union Trust, Afrinvest, Exczellon Capital and APEL Trustees.
The law signifies a monumental victory for environmental and public health advocates who have prevailed on the government to tackle the environmental crisis in Lagos.