The venue was Itedo Community, Lekki phase 1, Lagos and the event was the official kick off ceremony of the Eko Cleaner Air organised by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).
It was a day the agency sensitised the community on the need to halt indiscriminate disposal of plastics, waste oil, electrical, electronic wastes amongst others that results in land waste and water pollution, sea level rise and food insecurity among others.
At the event, the residents of Itedo had the privilege of exchanging waste for wealth as those who brought to the event their used pet bottles, electronics scraps such as television, radio, fan among others were given cash on handing over waste items to the agency.
During the launching of the campaign, there was also distribution of eco -friendly materials to the community members which includes: 500 cooking gas stoves with content, 400 water bottles, 400 rechargeable lights and 400 reusable use bags respectively.
While unveiling the Eko Clean Air project, the state Commissioner, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello, stated that the programme would be replicated across all the Local Government Areas of the State in other to improve the quality of air in Lagos State.
He added that: “This campaign is part of the themes agenda of this administration, under the health and environment pillar with the objective of reducing health inequality, promoting proper handling and management of waste so as to encourage healthy lifestyle, creates source of income for a lot of people and also maintain a better and sustainable environment.”
Represented by the permanent secretary, office of Environmental services, Tajudeen Gaji, the Commissioner commended the agency for its proactive approach towards environmental protection and further described the partners as eco-friendly organisations who are conscious of the environment and the health of Lagosians.
The General Manager of LASEPA, Dolapo Fasawe described the process of exchanging trash for cash as seamless and which includes the collection of wastes at various designated points for accredited type of waste such as pet bottles, used electronics, back oil, weighing to determine the worth and finally the exchange of cash in commensuration with the weight of the wastes.
Fasawe who is also a physician enlightened the community members of Itedo of the dangers of non-degradable plastics and uncoordinated waste oil disposal, stressing that the ‘wastes’, if properly handled can be exchanged for cash and also recycled into other usable items.
In her words: “We considered it necessary at LASEPA to bring this message of Eko Clean Air to this community, following a research carried out within this area.
“We want the people of Lagos to know that there is nothing called waste, because what is considered as waste is some ones else’s treasured raw materials,” Fasawe added
The LASEPA boss also noted that another assessment of the air quality of the community would be conducted in the next four weeks to ascertain the impact of the eco- friendly materials distributed to the residents so as to re-measured and compared with the initial result in other to determine the compliance of the residents to the friendly measures introduced.
According to her, Eko Clean Air project was an intervention by the government and some private organisations to address air pollution, promote a circular economy while also empowering the vulnerable members of the society for sustainable development.
On his part the managing director of Lagos state Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, Ibrahim Odumboni, commended the improved waste management practice noticed within the area and pleaded with the residents to continue to maintain good environmental attitude
Odumboni, said that Itedo, being a community on water should pay more attention to their environment by imbibing friendly environmental attitude, just as he encouraged each household within the community to have a waste bin and embrace sorting of their wastes.
Speaking earlier, Itedo Community leader, Rev. Adeigbagbo Harrison commended the state on what he described as symbolic presentation of eco-friendly materials to the community.
Continuing he said: “Our drainages were always filled with plastic bottles and nylon, so if government can sustain this good initiative, dumping of wastes in the drainages will be a thing of the past.’’
Other stakeholders who also spoke during the project launch described the wastes to wealth project as a great initiative and added that it would alleviate some of the financial predicaments facing women in the community.
Explaining further they said: “waste to wealth is a business anyone can get involved with as it would empower individuals financially and help them contribute to the development of their families.’’
On her part, one of the beneficiaries of the ‘trash for cash’ aspect of the ‘Eko Clean Air’ project, Monisola Ajayi-Badru could not hide her joy as she received a sum of one hundred thousand ₦100,000 from LASEPA in exchange for some bags of pet bottles.
Ajayi-Badru, who claimed that the pet bottles were picked from the community, encouraged residents of the Itedo to embrace the initiative as a way to further improve their standard of living by making money from trash.
One of the high points of the event was the message of Eko Clean Air which was further re-echoed with a short drama presentation by a popular Nigeria actor, Prince Jide Kosoko who is also the ambassador for “Eko Clean Air project’ and his group.
The drama emphasised the need to embrace cooking gases as against other methods of cooking like firewood, kerosene stove and charcoal, considering their negative effects on the environment.
It is interesting to note that Itedo Community, located Off Freedom Way, along Lekki Phase 1, is a developing community inhabited by petty traders, artisans, fishermen, farmers and school children.