The Lagos State Government has commenced the move to eliminate plastic waste from waterfronts across the State by launching the Clean-Up of Lagos Waterfront initiative at Ibeshe Waterfront in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State on Thursday.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti said that Lagos, like many other Mega Cities of the World, was faced with a wide range of socio-economic and environmental challenges, one of which was pollution, particularly pollution of the marine environment, which, in view of the socio-economic and public health implications, had become a major source of concern globally.
Durosinmi-Etti stated that the Marine Ecosystem was a delicate one that must be protected to effectively facilitate socio-economic activities such as transportation, power generation, irrigation and habitat to aquatic life.
According to him, the water bodies, being priceless gifts of nature with huge aesthetic, tourism and economic values, had been subjected to all forms of abuse and degradation, including dumping and littering of the waterfronts with solid wastes/debris.
His words: “you will all agree with me that the Lagos Lagoon and the other Lagoons, Rivers and Streams have all had their share of pollution and degradation ranging from the deliberate dumping of wastes and untreated sewage to discharge of untreated effluents”.
The Commissioner stated further that Nigeria was reported to have ranked 9th on the list of countries polluting the Oceans and Waterways, with 0.9 Million Metric Tonnes of mismanaged plastic wastes annually, thereby contributing 0.34 Million Metric Tonnes to global Marine plastic debris.
“It would be safe to infer that more than half of these quantities emanated from Lagos, being the most populated of the country’s Coastal States. The menace of plastic wastes and the attendant impacts on the aquatic environment has, without doubt, become a global concern which obviously was why the United Nations this year dedicated both the Earth Day and the World Environment Day celebrations to addressing plastic pollution”, he said.
He said that most of the wastes that emanated from the inland must not be allowed to find their way back to the waterfront and urged Lagosians to embrace and encourage best waste management practices.
Durosinmi-Etti continued that by embracing and sustaining the Clean-up exercise, the country and Lagos State, in particular, would benefit from more pristine and desirable shorelines for leisure and aesthetics, increased income from waterfront tourism, less contribution to global marine litter, improved biodiversity and food security among others.
He, therefore, urged users of waterways and waterfronts to see these natural resources as precious gifts of nature that must be protected and preserved, while charging operators within the water transport sector, such as Sand Dredgers, Fishermen, Private boat owners and Owners of facilities along the waterfront to do everything possible to protect the waterways.
He cautioned against improper decommissioning of dredging operations, leading to the abandonment of pipes, disused engine parts, iron and metal cuttings, adding that disused batteries and plastic bottles must not be allowed to litter waterfronts, while wastes from boats should not end up on the shoreline or in the waterways.
He emphasised that the commitment of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration to the environment as demonstrated by the implementation of far-reaching reforms in the Solid Waste Management sector, would on the long-run reduce and eliminate the incidence of plastic waste pollution, especially in the water bodies.
The maiden ‘Clean-up of Lagos Waterfront’ initiative with the theme “Save Our Waterfront” was organised in conjunction with the Nigerian Ports Authority and other stakeholders.