A renowned environmentalist, Mr Desmond Majekodunmi has heaped encomiums on the Lagos State government for signing the new state environmental bill into law.
Majekodunmi, who lauded Governor Ambode’s vision of ensuring that every person living in Lagos has a right to clean, safe and healthy environments, said the new law is a consolidation of what started few years ago which is aimed at putting Lagos where it ought to be and make Lagosians to live in a normal, healthy environment.
The new environmental law makes it an offence for any person or group of persons to dump any toxic waste capable of causing harm in the state while all emissions from vehicles, plants and equipment including generating plants in residential, commercial and industrial areas within the State must now meet air emission standard
The new law further stipulates that no manufacturing of chemicals, lubricants, petroleum products, cement (except for use in construction), gases or quarry takes place in a residential premise. It posits that any manufacturers of such items will procure an insurance policy from an approved insurance company.
In the new law, every owner or occupier of a facility who uses, stores, keeps and maintains an underground storage tanks and surface storage tanks shall register such tanks with the enforcing authority while a facility monitoring and inspection exercise will be carried out on all sites with surface or underground tanks periodically to determine the integrity of the facility involved. Soil test of the immediate environment will also be carried out to validate the integrity of the soil
The Lagos State Government said violators of the laws will face stiff penalties which include heavy fines which ranges from N250,000 to N5,000,000 and/or imprisonment.
Also, under the new law, it is an offence to engage in street trading along the major highways and streets of Lagos and sell in an unapproved market in Lagos while every owner, tenant and occupier of any shop, kiosks, space or stall in any market within the State shall on regular basis ensure the cleanliness of his or her space
It is also mandatory for every commercial vehicle in the State to carry a litter bin for the use of passengers in order to prevent passengers from throwng waste onto the streets from commercial vehicle. The law stipulates that if a commercial driver fails to provide the litter bin, the driver will be penalized alongside the passenger or the occupier of the vehicle who commits the offence
The new law has also empowered the Lagos State government to demolish any structures on sewage systems without approval. It also made it mandatory for anyone who wants to sink borehole or any structure connected with the supply of water to obtain permit from the office of drainage services in order to ensure compliance with standards.
The new environmental law also sets up the Lagos State Environmental Trust Fund will be independently managed by an SEC (Stock Exchange Commission) regulated Board of Trustee with the aim of promoting the development and improvement of the state’s environmental performance and sustainability. This will create a system that can attract funds from persons, organizations and authorities required to tackle environmental issues as well as fund and promote the creation of job opportunities for youths in waste management and waste recycling among others.