Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Lagos is the hub of modern Africa. Most travellers that pass through Lagos-Ibadan expressway have several landmarks that indicate their presence in Lagos state, to some it is the long bridge, while others it’s the Olusosun landfill located in Ojota.

An interstate traveler who often transports fruit items to Lagos said she always use the repulsive smell from the refuse site coordinated by Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to know that she has almost gotten to her destination.

Mrs Wuraola Shoyinka said “I often come to Lagos at least three times every week, my job is to transport fruits precisely banana from Ile-Ife down to Lagos. I have my customers and we have our meeting point. Mine is to drop it and turn back. What always makes me to know that I have almost gotten to my destination is the smelling refuse site in Ojota, at times I would have slept off but immediately our truck approaches the site, the refuse smell will wake me from my sleep. I don’t like it at all, but since the government has decided to use that place as a dumping site there is nothing anyone can do. I give kudos to does that live and work around that area.”

Meanwhile, the 100 acres Olusosun landfill that started in 1992 when Lagos was densely populated with about 7million people, is now an eyesore as the site now found itself in the center of the city, a hospital on one side, a primary school on another and various homes hovering just over its precipice.

However, in an interview by Guardian Newspaper on August 2017, the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Babatunde Adejare, who referred to the landfill as an eyesore said Olusosun landfill will be shut down by 2022. He added that government has identified a new dump site in the city of Badagry, which is 40miles away from Olusosun.

An environmental scientist, Tunji Oladipupo explained the similarities between health implications of living around a landfill and the novel Coronavirus. He concluded that those living 5kilometers to a landfill are suspectible to Coronavirus than those living faraway from it.

Tunji said ” Their health is at risk, those who live within five kilometers of a landfill especially during this period of COVID-19 pandemic. Research has shown a strong association between Hydrogen Sulphide (used as a surrogate for all pollutants co-emitted from the landfills) and deaths caused by lung cancer, as well as deaths and hospitalizations for respiratory diseases. Since Coronavirus is a respiratory disease, those living within 5kilometers to a landfill are more vulnerable to COVID-19. It is a virus that attack the lungs, in more severe cases infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and even death. The relationship between health implications of living close to a landfill and COVID-19 is very similar, it has been confirmed that patients with any type of terminal disease have a low chance of surviving COVID-19. Hence it is not healthy to live around such area within this period.”

Landfill site do release hazardous gas known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) which cause various types of Cancer and birth problems, self-related health problems such as skin irritations, nose and eye allergies, headache and gastrointestinal problems. Hygiene helps to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease and the government is advised to treat waste management, including medical, household and other hazardous waste as an urgent and essential public service. This is necessary because during this pandemic era, many types of additional medical, household and other hazardous waste are generated, including infected masks, gloves and other protective equipment.

Waste management workers, especially those in waste collection, should take additional precautions and ensure health and safety procedures are upheld. The safe handling and final disposal of this waste is therefore a vital element in an effective emergency response. Hence, the increased quantities of healthcare and medical waste should be safely disposed of, making sure that they pose no risk for further infections and pollution.

By Ife Adewole

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