The persistent increase in the price of diesel, and service parts like engine oil, hydraulics, tyres, and maintenance, for Private Sector Participators (PSPs) in waste management in Lagos, has further increased the cost of waste bills, worsening Nigerians’ living costs.
The rise in waste bills by an average of 200 percent across Lagos in a year has made it difficult for households to manage their waste while balancing their budgets, a development that has led to inappropriate waste disposal.
“Earlier this year, waste trucks used to charge a flat fee of N1000 per person in a compound. However, everything changed three months ago when the price suddenly skyrocketed to N3000 for just one bucket of dustbin per month,” Chidi Ike, a resident of Amuwo in Festac, told BusinessDay.
“The increase in waste bills caught us off guard and hurt our finances as we had not planned for such a significant expense. This unexpected burden disrupted our budget and made it difficult for my family to manage our household expenses effectively.”
Speaking with Abdulwahid Dolapo Adeleke, managing director of Biospheres Technologies Limited, a PSP operator in Lagos, he said, “The issue of any new increment aside from the one last approved by the Governor through managing director, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), is not a general one.
According to the MD, it would be relative to negotiation between the operator and the client. For example, operators around Ibeju Lekki and Lekki Axis are now to dump at Ojota due to partial closure of Epe dump thus increased cost must be envisaged.”
During an interview with four tenants residing in Ikotun, Lagos, they informed our correspondents that each of their waste bills had experienced a significant increase of 200 percent over a year. In July of the previous year, the waste bill for the entire property amounted to N4000.
However, in July of the current year, the waste bill surged to N6,000. Upon further discussion with the tenants, they disclosed that the increase in the waste bill was attributed to a substantial individual increase for each tenant.
In just one year, the waste bill for each tenant escalated from N500 to N1500. This significant rise in waste expenses has raised concerns among the tenants, prompting them to share their grievances during the interview.
BusinessDay investigations also found out that some small households and businesses, who are unable to dispose of their waste via LAWMA make use of cart pushers or dispose of their waste inappropriately due to their inability to pay PSP operators.
In Bariga, Lagos, a corn seller operating by the roadside, who preferred to remain anonymous, was observed discarding at least eight bags of corn peel into the nearby gutter.
When questioned about her actions, she candidly expressed her reasons, saying, “I cannot afford to pay anyone to dispose of my refuse for me, and the gutter is conveniently right beside me.”
Upon further inquiry about waste disposal services in the area, she shared, “There are no PSPs here; everyone handles their waste themselves. Some burn it, while others pay Hausa cart pushers to handle the disposal, but for me, the gutter serves as the easiest option.”
The persistent increase in operational costs for PSP operators has led to down tuning of frequencies. “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.
Dada Bunmi, another resident of Bariga, attested to the concerning absence of waste trucks in her area. She expressed, “Due to the unavailability of waste trucks, I am left with two options – either burning my waste or paying cart pushers.
“However, I tend to burn my waste as the cart pushers have recently increased their fee from N200 to N500 for just one full rice sack of waste.”
The managing director of Biospheres Technologies Limited added that PSP operators require bigger trucks and compactors that will load more refuse at a time to reduce frequencies to landfill sites.
“The New Howo/ Sino Compactor Truck co-design by LAWMA Engineers and Dangote Truck is a pointer to what should be adopted. Unfortunately, the cost of acquiring one now hovers around N75 million,” he said.
“For the clients, it is time everyone realizes that waste management is highly capital intensive and running cost changes along the market forces of our inputs which are related to international and foreign exchange patterns.”
Adeleke called for more monitoring and enforcement in the waste management sector. “Enforcement should be proactive. There should be enforcement of containerization and registration with evidence of payments for services rather than waiting for arrest and prosecution,” he said.
“People should embrace material reuse, sorting of waste with intention of selling recoverable for recycling.”