Nov 21, 2000 -Signing Ceremony Of The Environmental Sanitation Law 2000
1. The first serious challenge that my government faced on assumption of• office was the refuse and environmental problem. I decided that we should not adopt the old policies of just trying to manage to keep the city clean. We needed a policy that would change the way waste management is done in this city completely.
2. Consequently, a few months after I was sworn in, we pioneered the Private Sector Participation in refuse collection and waste management. We introduced the refuse collection bags. Our people have responded positively to this and all over Lagos now we find black cellophane bags; and even other types of bags.
3. Gradually people are leaving the habit of open refuse behind, but the Private Sector Participation still has a long way to go., Many citizens of Lagos State still do not pay Private Sector Participation operators to carry their refuse, some still dump open refuse on the medians on the streets and highways, and under bridges. Cart pushers also still actively dump open refuse allover the city. These problems showed us clearly that we needed to do something serious about the enforcement of our Sanitation policy.
4. This explains why government proposed a bill to the House of Assembly titled - "A Bill to Provide for Environmental Sanitation in Lagos State to establish the Environmental Sanitation Corps".
5. The House of Assembly debated the Bill extensively and passed it into Law a few weeks ago. It is that bill that I will be signing into law today. The law is titled "The Environmental Sanitation Law, 2000". The law is a ground-breaking one. For the first time, the law clearly spells out the responsibilities of citizens, private sector operatives, and government in environmental sanitation. The new law captures the main thrusts of the present administration's policy on waste management.
6. The law covers several different aspects of environmental policy. For example, it is now an offence not to put refuse in secure plastic bags. It is also an offence to throw litter into any street, public place or vacant plot. From the moment this law is passed, the dumping of refuse or discarded spare parts in an unauthorized place is a criminal offence.
7. A very important provision in the law is that no person can dispose of domestic refuse except through a Private Sector Participation operator. To effectively enforce this provision the law also says that no person can run a private refuse collection outfit unless such an outfit is registered by the appropriate local government and licensed by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
8. The law also provides for the Environmental Sanitation Corps. These are sanitation policemen, who will assist regular policemen to enforce the environmental laws. A special court named the "Special-Offences Court” has also been established to try sanitation offenders.
9. I want to Say that the City of Lagos can and will be clean. We as a government are not satisfied with ad-hoc methods of solving the sanitation problem. We are trying to put in place solutions that will stand the test of time.
10. A few days ago, the Ministry of the Environment and Physical Planning started the first phase of our massive plan to clean up Lagos State with the removal of over 40 broken down vehicles, and scraps. The next phase is the landscaping and beautification stage, for which we have divided the State into sectors for wider spread. I know that we are going to solve the environmental problems of this state as I am confident that we have the right plans and the right approach.
11. Today marks the beginning of a new era in environmental sanitation in Lagos State. In the next few weeks, you will also agree that things will not be the same again. I urge you to join the government in this new and bold attempt to clean this city and keep it clean. There is no reason why Lagos cannot be like any other city in the world. We owe it to ourselves and our children to do something permanent about our environment.