A Lagos group, Concerned Citizens Forum, has decried the State’s new environmental law, and has called on the government to review it in the interest of the people.
The group, which described the new law as “draconian, unprogressive and anti-people,” said it was designed to mortgage the state to foreign interests.
Thus, they urged the government and the State House of Assembly to take a second look at the law and do away with some provisions that would likely inflict hardship on the people and completely mortgage the state to foreign interests.
They flayed the government for imposing a new waste discharge levy on the embattled local waste managers, arguing that the new charge of N2,000.00 on every trip they made to the waste dumps cannot hold, adding that it was a new tactics devised to send them out of the business at all cost.
In a statement issued in Lagos and signed by its Convener, Comrade Michael Olayiwola, the group called on the government to immediately embark on a review of the law, stating that if implemented as it was, it would not only render many workers jobless, but would also kill local capacity development and investment in the state, which is a cardinal interest of the government.
The group questioned the rationale of a law with the tendency to replace Nigerians with foreigners in the state’s waste disposal management and to leave the people at the mercy of some shadowy elements in government, who are determined to corner the wealth of the state for themselves.
Comrade Olayiwola accused the state government of trying to wholly make a foreign company, Visionscape, which has just set up its corporate headquarters at Heritage Place, Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos, to take over the business of waste collection and disposal in the State, wondering why a government that has professed to be keen about youth empowerment and human capital development should embark on displacing Nigerians and small scale businesses owned by them and substituting them with foreign business interests that have no known business root in the country before now.
The group also faulted the composition of Visionscape’s management structure and its board. It stated that the company, being floated to replace the over 350 local waste mangers in the state has only five Nigerians in its 16-member management team and just two on its board. They questioned also the rationale by the state government for making public buildings across the state available to accommodate the foreign men and women when they are supposed to be strictly here on private business.
Olayiwola claimed that the government’s determination to mortgage the state to foreign business interests was further exposed by the provision of the law, which puts the foreign waste operators’ payment on first line charge of government expenditure and provide an irrevocable service payment order for them.
According to him, Part 1, Section 7, Subsection(2a & b) state: “The state shall secure the payment in respect of contracted services and concessions for long term infrastructure investment with an Irrevocable Service Payment Order as the FIRST LINE CHARGE on the state’s internally Generated Revenue(IGR) …”In the event that the state’s IGR is not sufficient or unavailable to discharge its obligations, the state SHALL apply monies due to it from the monthly allocations from the state’s Federal Allocation Account and or any other source to SECURE its payment obligations to the contractors and concessionaires under this law.”
The group explained that “the Lagos State Government is bound to pay the foreign company before it allocates money for any other services, including hospitals, schools, road construction, payment of workers’ salaries, provision of such other amenities as water supply and even before it performs other governmental duties.”
The group said it was miffed at the provision of the law for public utilities levy (PUL) to replace the current billing system for waste collection and disposal in the state, stating that the plan to have the new levy that was likely to be much higher paid in lump sum annually as against the current practice of paying the waste service charge monthly or bi-monthly in this harsh economic times would be resisted as it will not only further inflict pain on the people that are already choking from the government’s over taxation but would pauperized and sink them deeper into poverty.
It expressed disappointment at the government’s attempt under the law to criminalize the provision of water by the citizens for themselves, questioning the moral justification for that when it has failed in its constitutional responsibility of providing good portable water for the residents of the state.
The group then noted that “one of the seven companies, Avender (Nig) Ltd signed on by the state government to partner Visionscape, the foreign firm engaged by the government to replace the local waste managers in the handling of waste collection and disposal under its Cleaner Lagos Initiative, has disengaged from the arrangement.” Avender was said to have withdrawn from the engagement, citing government decision to revert its earlier agreement to allow them bill and collect the new utilities levy provided in the state’s new environmental law to replace the current waste collection billing system.