THE FAILURE OF VISIONSCAPE AND PSP:
THE FAILURE OF VISIONSCAPE AND PSP:
- LG Should Manage Refuse Disposal as Mandated by the 1999 Constitution
- Visionscape Should End Victimization of Workers and Improve Working Conditions
By Chinedu Bosah
The Lagos State Government has contracted Visionscape Sanitation Solutions to manage refuse disposal of residential houses and others thereby sacking the Private Sector Participation (PSP) Operators. Refuse management has gone from bad to worse with the resumption of Visionscape as many places and junctions are littered with huge refuse. The whole deal between the Ambode-led Lagos State Government and Visionscape has been shrouded in secrecy.
The award of the contract to Visionscape under the so called “Cleaner Lagos Initiative” is a new dimension to the neo-liberal policies of the privatization of refuse management. The Lagos State agency known as Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) used to be in charge of refuse management but only on a limited basis while the PSP contractors are engaged to manage refuse for residential apartments who in turn charge fees for refuse disposal. Under the old arrangement, PSP charge residents for waste disposed and as well get monthly subventions including some infrastructure and technical assistance from LAWMA. The PSP scheme is one of those private arrangements that accommodates the APC stalwarts at the grassroots level on the basis of patronage. Under the new deal, the PSP will now have to work under Visionscape but no agreement yet and dispute between PSP and Visionscape continues. In line with profit consideration, Visionscape is trying to reduce the number of times refuse will be discharged per week while the PSP is bargaining for profitable template. In some places, the CDAs have taken over the management of refuse but using the facilities and workforce of the PSP.
It is the primary responsibility of the Local Government to manage/dispose refuse. According to Section 1(h) of the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, “The main function of the Local Government is the provision and maintenance of public convenience, sewage and refuse disposal.” Hence, the Lagos State creation of LAWMA, PSP and now Visionscape is unconstitutional and is aimed at short-changing the people. The various local governments in Lagos and across the federation have been converted into agencies/departments of the state government that follow the whim and caprices of the state government. The local government should assume its responsibility, functions and obligation to the people but under a democratic management of the people in the Local Government.
Less than one year of feeble operation, Visionscape has begun victimization of workers. On May 8 2018, twelve truck drivers were arrested and detained at Adeniji Central Police Station, Lagos Island on baseless allegations that fuel were stolen. Currently the management has placed the accused on suspension without substantiating the allegation.
Visionscape started recruiting workers in July 2017 particularly the truck drivers. The workers are recruited through one outsourcing company or the other linked to the management of Visionscape. First in July 2017, workers were employed by Standard Drivers & Loaders Limited and from March 2018 workers are employed by Standard Street Manpower Limited while employment letters are usually backdated. The following are the anti-labour practices by Visionscape: (1) Workers are regularly harassed and victimised; (2). The sweepers are owed backlog of salaries despite paying a poverty wage of N18500; (3) Pension deductions are not remitted to the Pension Administrators; (4) Workers are sacked and replaced on lower working condition; (5); Overtime work are not being paid for as most of the workers are forced to work for 12-hour a day and 72-hour a week contrary to International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard of 8-hour a day and 40-hour per week. Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) demands recall of all sacked truck drivers, an end to victimization of workers and improvement of working conditions.