Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Chinedu Bosah

The refuse crisis in Lagos lingers as the government has shown obvious incapacity to resolve the problem. It is now common to see refuse heaps in many places, waste bins of many residents are not picked for weeks creating a health hazard

The crisis deepened when Visionscape Sanitations Solutions, (a private company) was awarded the contract to manage refuse in Lagos by the Ambode-led government and the PSP contractors were brought under Visionscape, an act that did not go down well with the PSP contractors. The PSP contractors are leading members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos that are maintained under the patronage system that guaranteed state subventions as well as regular monthly fees from residents and the coming of Visionscape altered the arrangement. The PSP contractors pulled out of refuse management in protest and even challenged the state government in court.

The award of the contract to Visionscape to manage waste and the PSP under the so called “Cleaner Lagos Initiative” is a consolidation of the neo-liberal policies of the privatization of refuse management that guarantees huge profit for a few at the expense of the residents in Lagos while public funds are mostly frittered away.

Just like in PSP arrangement, jobs are not secured in the Visionscape, the working conditions are poor, and workers do not have trade union rights and reliable retirement benefits. Between mid-2017 and August 2018, Visionscape management sacked over 20 drivers and introduced several anti-labour policies.

Considering the fact that the power struggle between Governor Ambode and Bola Tinubu-led group has been settled in favour of the later, it is most likely that Visionscape will run out of the contract of refuse management by June 2019 while the former exploitative PSP arrangement bounces back to business. This also means that all the workers in Visionscape will be rendered jobless similar to the manner workers in the PSP were thrown out of jobs. This shows how insecure jobs are in private employment; more so with smaller contractors/companies.

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/public.

A workable way out of the refuse crisis in Lagos is for the Local Governments to take charge of the management of refuse disposal in a democratic and transparent manner as the government that is closest to the people. The local government using public funds should procure facilities, infrastructures and employ workers on a permanent basis, secured jobs and on a living wage will do a far better job than the sorry state of refuse disposal under the PSP and Visionscape.