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OLUSOSUN:The Looming Environmental  Disaster

This article delves into the implications of locating the biggest landfill in Africa close to a prominent residential area in Lagos state. Olusosun’s popularity is not something any responsible government should be delighted about. Learn more about this looming environment disaster in this article.

Although there are landfills across Nigeria but there is one that stands out and that is indisputably “The Olusosun landfill” which is a vast area teeming with waste. Olusosun landfill is the busiest dump in black Africa.

The Olusosun dump-site is the deposit of the greatest chunk of household and industrial wastes generated in Lagos, the ‘commercial capital’ of Nigeria boasting a staggering population of 21 million people. Although there are similar sites in EpeIkorodu and Oke-Afa, the incredibly vast dump hill at Ojota in the heart of Lagos, is the biggest repository of wastes in the most populous city in sub-saharan Africa.

The landfill is a 100-acre dump in Lagos that receives close to 10,000 tons of rubbish each day. It is the largest in Africa, and the 6th largest in the world. Waste from around 500 container ships is also delivered to the site, adding a substantial portion of electronic waste. That’s an environmental disaster because rotting garbage produces landfill gas (LFG) which is made up of 50 percent methane, a greenhouse gas with the warming potential 23 times greater than carbon.

Some of the materials deposited at the Olusosun dumpsite are treated with chemicals to extract reusable products resulting in toxic fumes being released.

Around 1,000 homes exist at the site in shanty towns, occupied by residents who work at the dump scavenging for scrap to sell.

Olusosun landfill was once located on the outskirts of the populated area, however Lagos has, in recent years, undergone such massive expansion, that the site is now surrounded by commercial and residential areas.

The community is self-policing, with an appointed leader who settles matters ranging from theft to physical confrontations. Within the site are several small restaurants, barber shops, and at one point, a night club.

According to a publication by African Outlook Online;

The oozing stench from the dumpsite is deadly. It is this dour odor that welcomes visitors to Lagos through the heavily plied Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.  From as far as Seven-Up, a popular suburb on the outskirts of the city, the prevailing smell is a foul contrast to the situation when a bottle of 7-up, the popular carbonated drink, is opened. So, over the years, the landfill-turned-refuse-dump has earned for itself the nasty reputation of being the single biggest waste-related generator of environmental pollution and health endangerment in the city.

It’s worse whenever it rains, the odour that emanates from there is out of this world. Even a dead man will turn in his grave at the stench; It’s poisonous and injurious to human health. I’m sure the lives of rodents and other animals on that site is also on red alert.

Read also: What you should know before living on a contaminated land

It beats one’s imagination how any responsible government would site a dumping ground in a business and residential area when there are remote and under-developed parts of the state it can be moved to.

Anyone who knows the history of Olusosun will acknowledge that government has been unfair to the residents there

Olusosun has once been used as a shooting range. It was a land the federal government literally strolled to at the end of the tragic Nigerian Civil War of 30th July 1967 to 15th January 1970, when government infamously assumed control of a number of abandoned properties.

As the years wore on, families who owned the land regrouped and headed for the court for a shot at its recovery. In year 2000, the court ruled that the shooting-range-turned-dumping-ground should be returned to their original owners. And although government made a frail attempt at complying with the ruling by releasing a portion of the land, it has retained a part of it without compensating the owners in any way.

Yet, it is public knowledge that fears on the health implications of living and working around Olusosun are well-founded.

Waste management problem in Nigeria is a foundation for some communicable childhood diseases like polio, cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM), cholera, etc…, Those living near dump-sites with accumulations of automobile batteries, risk acute health problems like abdominal colic, constipation, fatigue, haemolytic anaemia, peripheral neuropathy, encephalopathy, convulsion, etc, in addition to other chronic health effects which often result in fatigue; anaemia, which can manifest in form of normocytic,normochromicreticulocytosis, basophilic and skipping of erythrocytes; and destruction of red blood cells and the nervous systems.

Notwithstanding the audacious ambitions of the Lagos State Government, the current state of the sprawling scavengers-housing expanse is nothing close to the innovative waste management location purportedly conceived.

“Olusosun is turning green; most of our landfills are going to look like golf course,” Mr. Oladimeji Oresanya, former Managing Director of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) — the body saddled with the responsibility of ridding the city of waste — had told local media, PM News, in August 2010.

However more than 5 years later Olusosun is the direct opposite of what a golf course should look like.

What we have now are plans by Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), to close down the Olusosun Landfill in Ojota by 2022.

The 24 year old dumpsite is expected to be turned to a green park and used for various things like a golf course and recreation centre afterwards.

It has also been stated that the electricity that will be used in there will be from the methane gas generated at the site.

The Lagos State Government is also expected to provide a fish pond to breed different species of fishes to complement the green park centre.

The landscape of the dump site has been adjudged to be suitable for golf course.

 

Whether Olusosun truly transforms to a golf course or remains the curse that it currently is, the truth is: no landfill, in Lagos or anywhere else, deserves to be sited amidst people

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