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New environmental bill will guarantee rights to cleaner, safer environment

New environmental bill will guarantee rights to cleaner, safer environment

“A renowned environmentalist, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi has lauded the Lagos State government for signing a new environmental bill into law. Majekodunmi, who praised Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s vision of ensuring that Lagosians have a right to clean, safe and healthy environment, said the new law would consolidate what the state government started a few years ago aimed at putting the state where it ought to be.”- The Guardian

The new environmental law makes it an offence for any person or group of persons to dump any toxic waste capable of causing harm while all emissions from vehicles, plants and equipment including generating plants in residential, commercial and industrial areas must meet air emission standard.

The law further stipulates that no manufacturing of chemicals, lubricants, petroleum products, cement (except for use in construction), gases or quarry takes place in residential premises. Any manufacturer of such items must procure an insurance policy from an approved insurance company.

Every owner or occupier of facilities that uses, stores, keeps and maintains underground and surface storage tanks shall register them with the enforcing authority while monitoring and inspection would be carried out on all sites with such facilities periodically to determine their integrity.Soil test of the immediate environment will also be carried out to validate the integrity. Violators will face stiff penalties including fines ranging from N250,000 to N5,000,000 and/or imprisonment.

Also, under the new law, it is an offence to engage in trading along the major highways and streets or sell in an unapproved market. Every owner, tenant and occupier of any shop, kiosk, space or stall in any market shall regularly ensure its cleanliness.

It is also mandatory for every commercial vehicle to carry a litter bin for the use of passengers to prevent them from throwing waste onto the streets. Commercial vehicle drivers who fail to provide the litter bin would be penalized alongside the passenger or the occupier of the vehicle that commits the offence.

The law also empowered the government to demolish any structures on sewage systems without approval. It also made it mandatory for anyone who wants to sink borehole or any structure connected with the supply of water to obtain a permit from the office of drainage services in order to ensure compliance with standards.

The law also sets up an Environmental Trust Fund, which would be independently managed by a board of trustees regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with the aim of promoting the development and improvement of the state’s environmental performance and sustainability.

This would create a system that will attract funds required to tackle environmental issues and create job opportunities for youths in waste management and recycling, among others.

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