Lagos State ministry of environment vows to enforce sanitation laws in Lagos markets
| By Augustine Adah | Mar. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE Lagos State ministry of environment is determined to enforce sanitation laws in all major markets in the state. That was why it shut down the popular Ladipo market in Mushin local government last Monday due to degradation of the environment by the traders.
The decision to shut the market came after several warnings by officials of the ministry failed to change the attitude of traders towards environmental cleanliness.
Bayo Sulaiman, chief superintendent of police and chairman, the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) unit, did not pretend over what he meant when he led a fully armed team that stormed the market as early as 4.00a.m and shut it. Sulaiman stated that the state government had a lot of issues with traders in the market, ranging from poor sanitary condition of the market to degradation of the environment with diesel and fuel products.
“We came here two weeks ago but the officials of the market did not show up. There is serious trading going on in the streets and there are lots of shanties here. We will make sure that this time around, proper sanitation is done by the traders before this market will be re-opened and they have to submit to the chairman of Mushin Local Government,” he stated.
The action of the special taskforce has received the commendation of Olatunde Adepitan, chairman, Mushin local government area. Adepitan described the closure as long overdue and which was aimed at moving the market forward. He lamented that every attempt made to bring the traders to obey the law has been misconstrued by them as an attempt to victimise the non-Yoruba traders.
Tunji Bello, commissioner for the environment, said he ordered the closure of Ladipo market after the traders failed to abide by the government environmental laws despite several warnings and meetings with the market leadership and traders about the deteriorating state of the market. “The environment is seriously polluted and degraded with oil; full and half engines, spare parts and human wastes are dumped into surrounding canals while illegal structures are built along drainage paths and all the canal have been turned to shops and trading points,” Bello said.
According to Bello, some of the conditions that might warrant the re-opening of the market include: complete removal of all illegal structures and attached structures built along canal paths and that traders must be confined to the main markets.
Ladipo was not the only market shut by the officials of the state government because of filthiness. Mile 12 market, described to be the largest food market in Nigeria, was shut early this year because of the inability of traders to comply with the state’s environmental laws. The market was also shut last year for the same reason. The poor sanitary condition of the market has posed a serious threat to the health of traders and customers.
Before shutting the market, officials of the taskforce complained that many traders had not been complying with the Thursday environmental exercise declared to keep markets and business offices in the state clean. As a result of indiscriminate parking of trucks by drivers, the gridlock between Ketu and Mile 12, a distance of about one and half kilometers usually take motorists up to 30 minutes.
But Shehu Usman, financial secretary, food stuff dealers, Mile 12 market, has urged the government to invest more in the market by providing facilities that would make the market one of the best in West Africa. To address the problem of poor sanitation, Usman said the market association leaders have constituted a committee to make sure that all traders in the market comply with the Thursday environmental sanitation. A taskforce comprising members of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, National Union of Road Transport Authority, NURTW, and market officials was constituted to ensure that truck drivers do not obstruct traffic along Ikorodu road. A trader, who craves anonymity, expressed surprise that despite the huge revenue that comes from the market, the government did not deem it necessary to develop the market. “We generate a lot of revenue for the government, but unfortunately, the government has not done much in terms of providing and upgrading facilities in the market,” she said.
The popular fruits market in Ketu, was also shut down in January before it was reopened when the traders agreed to abide by the sanitation laws and stop using the market for residential purposes.