• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Households waste bill rises 50% as cost of living bites

Waste collection bill rises 200% on surging PSP operational cost

The persistent increase in the price of diesel in Lagos has forced Private Sector Participators (PSPs) in waste management to further increase the cost of waste bills, worsening Nigerians’ living costs.

The increase in waste bills by an average of 50 percent across the Lagos metropolitan has made it difficult for households to manage their waste while balancing their budgets.

BusinessDay investigations show that in a bid to reduce spending, some households, and traders burn their waste or discard it in gutters, canals, and roadsides, contributing to environmental degradation and health concerns.

The increased practice of discarding waste in gutters, canals, and roadsides due to Lagos’s high cost of waste bills will significantly impact the upcoming rainy season.

The accumulation of waste in these areas can obstruct the natural flow of water and increase the likelihood of flooding, especially in low-lying areas.

Late last year, the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) declared its intention to shut down Ladipo and Oyingbo markets for reckless waste dumping, refusal to pay for waste services, and general poor waste management situation at the markets.

Despite repeated warnings, the waste management authority explained that traders’ unwholesome environmental practices in those markets called for necessary and immediate sanctions.

Godswill Agodichi, a supervisor from Continental Waste Management, Lagos, told BusinessDay that due to economic hardship, some residents in densely populated areas like Sari Iganmu, Ajegunle, and other slums in Lagos prefer to throw their waste in drainages and roadside than pay PSP operators for collection.

Olubunmi Ogunsanya, a resident of Ogolonto, Ikorodu, Lagos, told our correspondents that the price of waste bills in her area has increased by 100 percent.

“Some months ago, we used to pay N500 for our waste bill. However, it increased to N700, then N1,000. The increase might look small, but it negatively affects my budget during this strenuous economic situation,” Ogunsanya said.

“Whether your waste bin is filled to the brim or not, you will still have to pay the N1,000 bill.”

According to Ogunsanya, despite the increase in waste bills, PSP waste operators have reduced the number of times they collect waste.

“We were told they will come four times a month, that’s once every week. However, it’s now twice a month. There was a time it was so bad they did not come for a month,” she said.

Ogunsanya said that when the waste management did not come for a month, she had to improvise by burning the waste outside the compound. She had to separate the bottles and other things so they would burn easily.

Also, Bola Deji, a resident of Ile-Iwe, Ikotun, Lagos, told our correspondents that LAWMA recently increased his waste bill by 25 percent.

“We recently got an update from LAWMA agents that the usual N1,600 we do pay for disposing of our waste has been shifted to N2,000,” Deji said.

“The increase in the waste bill came in a period that I am struggling, and I have to cut off some expenses, especially going out in my leisure time to have fun to save money and accommodate the new bill.”

Our correspondents also discussed with PSP operators in waste management about the increase in waste bills, diesel and the surging cost of doing business.

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They pinned the increase in waste bills on diesel costs and the price of service parts like engine oil, hydraulics, tyres, and maintenance as major factors worsening their operations.

Abdulwahid Dolapo Adeleke, managing director Biospheres Technologies Limited, a PSP operator, told BusinessDay that the high cost of diesel has led to down tuning of frequencies.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that diesel prices increased by 56 percent, from N312 in March 2022 to N840 per litre in the same period in 2023.

According to experts, the surge in diesel is owing to the deregulation of the commodity and its vulnerability to foreign exchange shortages, the global energy crisis, importation, and the cost of logistics.

“Operating at normal weekly frequencies per residence is not profitable for operators facing almost 300 percent increment. The alternative is to reduce the collection frequency to two or three times per month instead of four,” Adeleke said.

According to the managing director, his company spends N400,000 to N500,000 monthly on diesel.

Adeleke further said that other challenges affecting his company’s operations include non-payment of refuse bills by residents; turnaround time at landfill sites, especially during the rainy season, and zero enforcement by governmental agencies, which ought to drive revenue for PSP operators and prevent indiscriminate/ illegal refuse dumping.

Despite increasing waste bills, Adeleke says his customers fail to pay. “We increased the waste bills but have yet to receive a response in payments from residents. We operate in a low-income area, so they pay even in normal climes.

Another PSP operator in Lagos who preferred to be anonymous told our correspondents that the increased diesel cost and service parts like engine oil and maintenance have attacked their operations.

According to the PSP operator, the price of tires for waste trucks has increased thrice, and the cost of buying a waste vehicle is now four times more expensive due to dollar scarcity.

To improve waste management in Nigeria’s commercial centre, the Lagos state government planned to launch new legislation to curb the menace of waste in the state and support businesses in the circular economy.

Omobolaji Gaji, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment & Water Resources, said last November that the new waste management policy, which is set to be unveiled soon, was developed by the Ministry of Water Resources in collaboration with stakeholders in the waste industry to regulate waste and ensure a sustainable working environment.

Gaji noted that curbing the menace of waste has been identified as the most difficult challenge facing the state and its environment.

“With increased urbanization and population growth, the state government is concerned about the generation of plastic waste associated with environmental pollution such as blockage of drainage, which leads to flooding,” he said.

He added that the flood menace in Lagos made the state government take decisive measures toward regulating plastic waste management.