Recently, the Lagos State government mandated all Local Council chairmen to mobilize resources for the evacuation of refuse within their respective domain. Swiftly, the chairmen responded, working days and night, to ensure speedy compliance. Lagos Island Local Government is one of the Council Areas that speedily swung into action to carry out the all important executive order. And within a while, Lagos Island streets were clean and devoid of wastes. But then, it did not take quite long before this new cheering situation faded away and the old order sadly returned. In areas such as Adeniji Adele, Jankara, Broad streets, deposits of refuse on the streets and road medians soon become noticeable.
However, it needs to be stressed that while this situation was taking place on Lagos Island, things were much better in Iru-Victoria Island as the streets were free of wastes, with very clean environment, no sight of illegal refuse dumps and the Visionscape bins were not in any way overflowing with waste. No doubt, the Cleaner Lagos Initiative is on course but certain issues still stand as constrains, especially in Lagos Island. Why, for instance, is the initiative doing fine in Iru-Victoria Island and not too fine in Lagos Island?
To begin with, it is important to state that education has a lot to do with it. Residents of Iru-Victoria Island are considered well educated and better informed. Hence, it is much easier for them to understand and appreciate the need for proper sanitary habit. Aside this, business activities are well structured and better organized in Iru-Victoria Island unlike at Lagos Island where trading activities are more characterized by open markets which are not really well structured. This, coupled with low level of education of most traders at the Island, is perhaps, responsible for the disorganized manners in which they approach environmental issues.
In-spite of the diverse efforts of the Lagos Island Local Government to promote public enlightenment with a view to effecting attitudinal changes in waste disposal as well as other environmental matters, residents and traders on the Island are yet to properly understand the need to have a rethink towards environmental matters. Sadly, it is the people that are always directly affected whenever there are environmental hazards arising from unpleasant environmental practices.
For instance in Shyllon street, the residents are faced with a problem that is common in Lagos. The drain on this street used to flow freely but of late, things changed as a result of poor sanitary habits of some of the residents. Consequently, every little rainfall affects buildings and other structures along the street. Today, lots of the buildings in the area have been badly affected by water. But then, the problem started with the deposit of wastes that the people throw into the drains over a long period of time, which eventually made it impossible for drains to flow freely.
Lagos Island residents and, indeed, every Lagos residents need to understand that the quality of our lives, as human beings, is considerably a reflection of the quality of the environment which we dwell in. Many still seem not to comprehend that the environment which we inhabit, like the air which we breathe, is life. Or how else can we explain the attitude of some who persistently make their living abodes unsanitary and inhospitable environment? It is still common to see people throwing things out on the highways from their cars.
On the streets, stagnant gutters still occupy pride of place next to conveniently-located food hawkers – all the easier for garbage disposal. Even some of the fanciest areas are not exempted – “pure water” sachets (which surely rank very high on the list of the most environmentally-unfriendly products ever invented!), bottles and unofficial garbage dumps circle the gated walls of posh homes and well-manicured lawns. This dirty habit is not justifiable in a state where the government is doing so much on environmental sanitation. It is detrimental to our common good.
We need to change our attitude to environmental issues. The earth, for now, is our home. It is where we live, breathe, eat, raise our children, etc. Therefore, we cannot afford to destroy the environment because our whole essence depends on it. Consequently, when we imbibe positive attitudinal change towards the environment, we are sure of living free of any pollutants or hazards that we might introduce into our environment through human induced activities.
It is whatever we give to the environment that it gives back to us. Community leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, NGOs and other stakeholders should work in partnership with the state government to ensure that current gains in the sector are sustained. It is only in doing this that the state government’s massive investment in protecting the environment would not be a waste.
Protecting the environment allows future generations of human beings to grow and live without having to deal with anything we have done to contaminate the environment in which we do live and they will live. Protecting the environment is, without doubt, the best way to protect ourselves against diseases and other harmful environmental hazards.