Reintroduction of monthly sanitation: Has Lagos ran out of ideas?


Sanitation is one of the most important aspects of community well-being because it protects human health, extends life spans, and is documented to provide benefits to the economy. Sanitation (e.g. toilets, latrines, mechanized wastewater treatment) is currently deployed as a way to contain and/or treat human excreta (and in some cases grey water) to protect human health and the environment.

However, since the demise of the Second Republic in 1983, environmental sanitation has become a prominent issue in Nigeria. Countless sanitation edicts have been promulgated by state governments. Many of these edicts have at least, temporarily had considerable impact on the lives of citizens of the major cities.

Lagos State, Nigeria’s mega city, and the largest in Africa, has for decades enforced a three-hour lock-down for citizens to embark on a monthly sanitation exercise in their households and environments. This, aside from participating in the general environmental sanitation, is not unconnected to the fact that Lagos has suffered frequent flash floods from blocked drainages, and heaps of refuse dumps. A problem the monthly sanitation exercise allows communities to directly intervene in.

Despite the obvious environmental impact of this activity, the state government in 2016, during Ambode’s administration, cancelled the monthly routine because of the perceived implications on the economy of shutting down the nation’s commercial capital on a weekend morning.

Fast-forward to 3 years after, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s government on June 1, 2019, conducted a Twitter poll with the topic: “Should the Lagos State Government return Saturday sanitation exercise?”

This led to rumours that the new governor had signed an executive order reintroducing the erstwhile regulation, which restricted movement on the streets every last Saturday of the month between 7:00am and 10:00am for the purpose of environmental sanitation.

This rumour was the talk of the town until the State government, through its Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello, on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, informed residents that the enabling law to permit the reintroduction of monthly sanitation is on the way.

With the State government deciding to reintroduce monthly sanitation, what impact will it have on economic activities across the state? Will it improve the state of hygiene in Lagos? Will residents even key into the new environmental policy?

Considering that a mega city like Lagos needs its government to be proactive in its strategy, should we say the state government is bereft of new ideas by reintroducing the monthly sanitation exercise? Will this reintroduction resolve the mega problems associated with an evolving state like Lagos? Is the reintroduction really what is needed at this time or a strategic approach to leadership and people’s management?

These, and many more questions are what prompted us to speak to Lagosians who bare their minds on the soon to be re-enacted environmental law.

These are their opinions:

Bunmi Olaitan, a pure water seller and a shop owner at Shasha, Akonwonjo, says the soon to be enacted law is a welcome development, as it would enhance cleanliness in the state.

Kehinde Oluwafemi, a business consultant says categorically that the Lagos State government has run out of ideas. He queries the reintroduction at a time when he thinks the govt and his cabinet members should be up and doing and evolving strategies to empower the citizens economically.

He says: “Lagos State by this act alone shows it has run out of any new idea in moving the state forward. How can reintroduction of sanitation be the first policy thrust of this new government? This is not where our problem lies. I want to see a government coming up with new and modern policies that wil create better living and health conditions for Lagosians.”

Speaking with CobraReview, Nkechi Ugwu, a food vendor at Abule-Egba says: “If reintroducing monthly environmental sanitation will solve these heap of refuse dump everywhere in Lagos, then government should start it fast. Personally, I’m tired of seeing heaps of dumps around. Almost everyone now dump refuse at the junction, and this act is affecting our business, because, no customer would want to be eating and be smelling or seeing dumps around.”

However, traders at popular Kantogora market in Super, Abule-Egba, Lagos State, are of different opinions concerning the development.

Obinna Nnamdi says closing down a mega city like Lagos for hours all in the name of sanitation is not advisable, as businesses might suffer some causes.

Adeolu Ajayi, a shop owner at the market says, although monthly sanitation is a good move towards ensuring a cleaner Lagos, but closing up shops and businesses would be bad.

Although, many are of the opinion that restriction of movement in the name of environmental sanitation would permit young men to turn roads into soccer pitches, with the argument that most people wouldn’t comply with the cleaning policy. However the government while defending its stance says: “Residents need think of the economic implications of improved sanitation and hygiene the policy would bring.”

Do you think this policy will relief Lagos State of its heavy waste? Or is it a sign that the government has lost new innovative ideas? Let’s have your feedback in the comment section below.

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  1. If the state government is serious with the policy and be strict on it, it would go a long way in making the state clean. I doubt they would be serious with the law anyway, because other states that are currently on that policy are only doing it on the paper. But should the government decide to follow it up with full force, I bet Lagos will be clean once again.

  2. the policy is not new to Lagos residents. The development would clean the state of dirt, as it would enable everyone to be part of the process.

  3. reverting to monthly sanitation when movement would be restricted would pose more harm than good. government shd continue with the Every Thursday cleaning.

  4. I feel this move is good for Lagos State cos the state is messed up with dirt. You can’t even distinquish an estate from a slum.

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