Sanwo-Olu changing Lagos’ environment for the better

Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu
By Remi Adelowo
From achieving a flood-free state, to converting the enormous waste generated in the city to wealth, massive clearing of drainages and canals, in addition to initiating policies to address the climate change, for which Lagos State is most vulnerable, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is changing the narrative on how to make the environment work better for both human living and businesses.
That Lagos State was rated the 19th best city in the world, according to the latest report of the world’s 50 best cities, which is based on the Time Out Index, created from a survey of more than 20,000 city dwellers around the world, was not by happen-stance. That rating speaks to the concerted efforts by the Sanwo-Olu administration to make Nigeria’s arguably most populous state a place to live, work and merry with less stress.
In achieving these objectives, the governor and his cabinet team have worked round-the-clock, in collaboration with local and international partners and the results are beginning to yield bountiful dividends.
Early this year, Sanwo-Olu, on behalf of the state government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Harvest Waste Consortium from the Netherlands. The MoU will bring about the introduction of waste treatment solution that will ensure conversion of almost 3,000 tonnes of waste daily into energy. It is expected that over 75 megawatts of electricity will be generated and will serve over 40,000 households when fully operational. Beyond environmental benefits, this project will stimulate economic activities, attract major investments, and create jobs in Lagos. The project is another solid testament of the Sanwo-Olu-led administration’s commitment to building a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable city for all.
Also present at the historic event were the Deputy Consul General of the Dutch Consulate, Ms. Leonie Van der Stijl; the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab; his Economic Planning and Budget counterpart, Mr. Mosopefolu George; Special Adviser on the Environment, Mr. Olakunle Rotimi-Akodu; Executive Director of Finance at Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Kunle Adebiyi; and Managing Director of Harvest Waste Amsterdam, Mr. Evert Lichtenblt and other top government officials.
The state government has also not been slacking in ensuring full compliance with environmental laws. In achieving this, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources led by its Commissioner, Tokunbo Wahab has taken the governor’s marching order to heart.
This year 2024 has been a particularly busy year for Wahab and his team in the ministry. They have not only been a thorn in the flesh of illegal settlers habituating in public places like under some bridges across the city, residents who built houses on unapproved places, thereby impeding the flow of flood have borne the brunt of government’s action. This is, in addition, to the yeoman’s job by the ministry to cleaning up canals and drainages, all in the bid to guarantee free flow of rain flood.
In the last few months, the Commissioner had led the management team of the ministry on extensive tours of several parts of Lagos to ensure that environmental laws are strictly enforced and complied with by residents. Recently, Wahab inspected enforcement projects in Isolo, Ago Palace Way, Lekki, Ikoyi, and other areas prone to flood and where there are drainage contraventions.
While reiterating the Sanwo-Olu-led administration’s goal to make Lagos and the metropolis flood-free, he also gave additional 48 hours vacation notice to owners of buildings on drainage alignment at System 63B – Sangotedo to allow the government reclaim the drainage setbacks.
Accompanied by top officials of the ministry, including the Permanent Secretary Office of Environmental Services, Gaji Omobolaji; and the Permanent Secretaryin the Office of Drainage Services, Engr. Mahamood Adegbite, Wahab also went round the state to ascertain the state of some drainage channels with a hindsight that most flooding issues are majorly caused by negative human activity.  The team also visited Aladelola Street in Ikosi-Ketu, where some individuals had cut the supporting iron under the culvert thereby leading to the collapse of the channel.
In addition, the officials visited Victory Estate collector, Ago Palace Way, to check the level of enforcement and compliance initially initiated in the area where some unscrupulous individuals blocked water path and canals and engaged in illegal sandfilling and selling.
They visited Sangotedo where there is a natural stream that is supposed to discharge into System 63 and from there to Omu Creek, which has been blocked and reduced by illegal structures built along the channel. A 48-hour contravention notice was speedily served to owners of buildings lying within the channels.
The team was also at Ajiran Primary Channel, Chevron Drive to ascertain the level of the ongoing dredging. It is also important to note that there is construction of a new alignment for free flow of water in the axis. At Ilabere Collector at old Ikoyi, the team observed that there is an encroachment on the alignment. The commissioner directed that the fences be pulled down.
The state government is fixing a major infrastructure around Ilabere and it is a no-brainer that if the collector is not properly handled, the infrastructure will be destroyed.
After the inspection, Wahab was emphatic in reiterating Sanwo-Olu’s vision to conform with global standards in environmental management. He said: “Climate change is real and there is a cholera outbreak. We must know that all these things are interwoven; we must all be responsible and responsive as a people. We cannot continue to brazenly abuse the environment and expect that there will be no consequences”.
In the course of the year, operatives of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps and other security personnel have dislodged street traders contributing to environmental infractions and obstructing the free flow of traffic at Ikorodu road, Onipanu, while their counterparts in the Department of Drainage Maintenance commenced the cleaning/de-flooding, maintenance dredging and evacuation of silts from Twin Channel East, Itire Masha, Surulere LGA on Wednesday 19/06/2024 to prevent flooding. In addition, the dredging and cleaning the Ajiran channel in Eti Osa Local Government Area to prevent flooding was successfully carried out.
That is not all. Following several notices served, operatives of the Environmental Sanitation Corps and other enforcement units of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources carried out the removal of contravening structures built on the drainage channel in Okezie Ugbaja Street and other parts of Okota and Oshodi.
Other major successes of the ministry include, the cleaning/de-flooding, maintenance dredging and evacuation of silts from Odo Otin Primary Channel in Epe local government to prevent flooding in the axis; maintenance dredging to clean Itirin drainage channel in Victoria Island to prevent flooding in the area; cleaning/de-flooding, maintenance dredging and evacuation of silts from Oke Alo Primary Channel in Kosofe Local Government and maintenance/cleaning of Ladipo drainage channel in Mushin Local Government.
Others include the removal of shanties, makeshift structures and street traders under Isolo bridge; removal of shanties and makeshift structures under Liverpool Bridge, Apapa; dislodgement of illegal traders at Tin Can Island area along the Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway.
Other agencies in the ministry are also playing major roles to make Lagos more liveable. In a proactive stance against noise pollution and other environmental infractions, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), initiated targeted enforcement operations.
Its General Manager, Dr. Babatunde Ajayi, reiterated the agency’s unwavering commitment to environmental preservation and regulatory compliance across Lagos State. “We remain steadfast in our mission to protect the environment and prioritise the health and safety of our citizens”, Ajayi said.
He also enjoined members of the public to report any instance of environmental violations to the agency, underscoring the collective responsibility in safeguarding the natural beauty and health of Lagos State for future generations.
All of these activities have been acknowledged by appreciative residents and members of the business community. It also underscores why Lagos is the toast of both local and foreign investors. Little wonder that businesses, from hospitality, real estate, entertainment and merchandising, are witnessing a boom, all thanks to the vision and tenacity of Governor Sanwo-Olu to transform the environment to world-class standards.
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