The environmental utility group contracted by the Lagos State Government as part of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI),Visionscape Sanitation Solutions, says its mission in the state is not to take over the means of livelihood of Private Sector Participation (PSP) operators in waste management.
Visionscape’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr John Irvine, in an interview with newsmen, said contrary to misconceptions, the company was only in Lagos to contribute to the vision to achieve an environmentally sustainable state working with all critical stakeholders.
He said so far, the company has intensified efforts on provision of infrastructure that would assist in proper waste management in line with global best practices, while a deal had been reached with over 300 PSPs now to be known as Waste Collection Operators (WCOs) to collect waste from residential areas across the state.
According to Irvine, “New York for instance has 19 million residents about four million less of Lagos population and New York has between 50 and 60 Transfer Loading Stations. What we are committed to do as part of enhancing our work within the CLI is to build safer, bigger and more concise infrastructure.
“While we are doing that, the WCOs will come back into the system and basically, that is what the agreement is all about. Visionscape is an international company and many WCOs were not happy when we came but like I have said before, we are not here to take anybody’s livelihood or jobs away and the events of the last few days have shown that as a company we want to work with everybody not just our own group of companies.”
He said it was unfortunate that some PSPs refused to be part of the deal, but that it was gratifying that a good number had agreed and have started working to clear the state of filth.
“I think there have been some misconceptions on the deal we have reached on the waste management situation in the state. Over the last few days, my management team has met with each WCO in the clusters and areas they work and work has resumed. All the major stakeholders within the CLI – the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Justice, WCOs are happy but the only issue is that we have taken too long to get here.
“We understand that there are some WCOs resisting to come round the table; I cannot do anything about that. If there are over 300 companies willing to work with us, we must be doing something right but as it stands today, status quo has been returned to allow us concentrate on the bigger mandate and fast-tracking what is really needed which is infrastructure, safe landfills, safe transfer loading stations, safe waste depots to ensure that when waste is generated, it is looked after and not just dumped in black spots,” Irvine said.
He said at the moment, Visionscape was putting structures in place to ensure a coherent and transparent collection system, and urged Lagosians to exercise patience, adding that the positive results would be felt in coming days.
Besides, Irvine debunked insinuation that the company was planning to take over commercial waste collection, saying there was nothing of such.
“Now, all the WCOs handle collection of commercial and residential waste; Visionscape is responsible for one Engineered Landfill which is in Epe. Any PSP can come there and dump be it commercial, residential we don’t care. At the end of the day, garbage is going to a safe environment and we are happy.
“One thing I need to make crystal clear is that Visionscape has no responsibility or ambition to take any commercial or industrial waste collection services. We are here primarily with a focus for ten years for residential door-to-door collection and subsequent processing of the waste from transportation to what we call diversification (recycling) and final disposal. We have no ambition to take over commercial waste,” Irvine said.