[QUOTE]Domestic wastes dumped on major highways in Lagos have been a source of worry to Lagos residents. This prompted the government to devise a way of turning the wastes into wealth by constructing waste conversion sites. Weekly Trust reports that the company is not only a conversion site, but also an employment opportunity for many youths.
Huge piles of refuse dumps are not new on Lagos streets. Infact, most streets in Lagos share one element of refuse heaps or the other. The situation is made worse during public holidays like Christmas, Sallah and New Year celebrations when the metropolis become dirty as domestic wastes dumped along major roads are left unclared to by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
Indiscriminate dumping of waste by the residents along major streets is one of the major problems facing the LAWMA. But some of the residents who spoke to Weekly Trust attributed it to lack of enough dumpsites in the state. There are three major dump sites recognized by the state government and they are the Olusosun, Abule-Egba and Soulous dumpsites along LASU-Iba road.
But in a bid to provide a permanent solution to the problem, the former government of Bola Tinubu came up with the waste-to-wealth project which gave birth to the Earthcare Technologies Incorporated. The firm specialises in converting organic waste into compost manure for farmers within and outside Lagos state. And today, the waste-to-wealth project not only addresses the problem of waste but provideds employment for some youths through a buy-back programme from scavengers who source the waste for the firm.
The multi-million dollar project is built on a 42-hectare land at Odogunyan area of Ikorodu, a Lagos suburb. It is owned by an American firm, Earthcare Technologies Incorporated. With the current level of compost production at the site, the project has come to stay as a final solution to the nagging domestic waste being generated daily by millions of residents. Mr. Segun Ogundeji, the Public Relations Officer of the state Ministry of Environment said that the Earthcare is expected to mop up 70 per cent of the over 10,000 metric tonnes of waste daily from homes and offices of the estimated 18 million residents of Lagos.
According to Ogundeji, over 70 per cent of the daily wastes being generated in Lagos metropolis is organic, and that over a million naira or more is spent everyday to get the waste from different homes and industries to the various landfill sites in the city. In view of this, the state government came up with the idea of converting the organic waste to useful items.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Earthcare Technologies, Phil Frederick, said the firm is intensifying efforts to improve production, adding that the Earthcare is relying on LAWMA for the successful implementation of the projects and is expected to feed the plant with required tonnage of refuse on a daily basis. He said provision of the road has enabled long haul trailers from various parts of Ikorodu division and other areas within metropolitan Lagos to ferry waste to the project site without stress.
However, the whole environment stinks of the offensive odour from the waste grinded on the site, but the American explained that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the site has been approved by the Federal Government, noting that measures had been taken by Earthcare Technologies to avoid running foul of federal regulations on environmental sanitation.
At the project site, quite a number of foreign workers and indigenous hands were seen engaging in various activities after sharpening their skills for the operation of equipment at the site. Local farmers who had bought and used the compost produced by the American firm said the product has contributed immensely to increasing their farm yileds.
One of the farmers, Alhaji Bisiriyu Ajayi, who has acres of maize farm at Igbogbo within the state, said prior to using the manure produced by Earthcare Technologies, the output from his farm was not as high as what is obtained now. "The manure has been very useful to me on my farm. Infact, I experienced bountiful harvest last year and my colleagues within our co-operative society even wondered how I came about it. Then, I told them about Earthcare compost," the farmer said.
Another farmer, Mr. Dada Onabanjo, a cassava and yam farmer at Iwoye village in Epe division of the state, expressed gratitude to the state government for bringing a firm like Earthcare Technologies to the state. According to him, the firm's product is an alternative to the tedious job he used to do on his firm.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire, described the waste-to-wealth project as a product of the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) at international level, saying the farmers as the end users of the product have started enjoying the product to boost their farm produce.
The Commissioner and the General Manager LAWMA, Mr. Ola Oresanya, said the existence of the multi-billion dollar domestic waste conversion site at Odogunyan and the proposed new site for Epe and Badagry division of the state as an enduring solution may have been found for the nagging excessive domestic waste generation in Lagos. With Earthcare, the days of the heaps of wastes in Lagos may be numbered.[/QUOTE]