The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said it had arrested four officials of a Private Sector Participant (PSP) operator in waste management, Ayomide Olayinka Ventures, for dumping waste on the street along the Central Business District (CBD) of Lagos Island ”in the middle of the night”.

In a statement signed by Kehinde Bamigbetan, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, the government said the suspects were arrested by security operatives in the early hours of Tuesday while they were using their compactor with registration number FST 908 XG to dump refuse on the street.

Those arrested include the driver of the compactor, Oloruntele Adekunle, and three others, whose company is said to have its office at No 1A, Kudirat Abiola Way, Old Oregun Road, Ikeja.

The latest arrest, according to the statement, brought the number of PSP operators arrested for similar offence in the last one week to five.

Hundreds of cart pushers and wheelbarrow operators had equally been arrested for dumping waste in public places and canals in various parts of the State.

The arrest also came days after a report on how the newly contracted foreign firm, Visionscape Group, is overwhelmed by the enormous waste generated by residents.

Mr. Bamigbetan, in the statement, said the arrest shows the ”institutional corruption that has been lingering in the sector,” which the State Government intends to fight with the reforms such as the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) being put in place.

“The arrest of the PSP operator is a clear example of the deliberate efforts to sabotage what the State Government is doing,” Mr. Bamigbetan said.

“The PSP operators are not being driven out of their businesses with the reforms as they are making the public to believe.

“Under CLI, the government has made provision for the PSP operators to handle collection of commercial waste and there are over 15,000 companies in Lagos that can serve the over 200 PSP operators in the State. So far, the CLI has been able to get over 50,000 new employees out of the labour market.

“The government has also stressed itself by getting N2.5 billion loan to enable the PSP operators buy equipment to be more competitive. These are the things they can key into than blackmailing government. The whole idea is to build local capacity in order to employ more of our unemployed youth,” Mr. Bamigbetan said.

He said the PSP operator arrested last week in Mushin area of the State had already been charged to court with the case adjourned to February 26, while the latest suspect would be paraded during the week by the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC), and subsequently charged to court.

He said it was unfortunate that some PSP operators were allowing vested interests ”to use them to blackmail the government into abandoning the reforms designed to revolutionise waste management.”

“The PSP operators are being used by those fighting against the reforms the government is putting in place. The Cleaner Lagos Initiative is part of the measures to fight institutional corruption in the system which the government is determined to eradicate.

“The government will not be blackmailed into abandoning the right thing for the people. Over time, the Lagos State Government has carried out reforms in the Police Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), among others and the State Government is committed to ensuring that the corruption in the waste management system is stamped out.

“Any PSP operator henceforth caught will be dealt with using the full weight of the law. No government will fold its arms and allow few vested interests whose interests are inimical to the majority of the people and aimed at sabotaging government’s policies and programmes to have a field day,” Mr. Bamigbetan said.

Meanwhile, the State Government has paraded four cart pushers – Yusuf Saheed, Abubakar Lawal, Bashiru Umar and Amira Abdul, who were arrested in Moshalasi Alhaja in Agege area of the State for dumping refuse in unauthorised spots.

The Commissioner for the Environment, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, who briefed journalists at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, said the suspects would be charged to court.

He also disclosed that commercial operations of the CLI would commence fully from March 1.

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