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Smell and Smoke in Lagos!

Over the last 8 days or so, the social media has been awash over the horrendous smoke which has engulfed Lagos, specifically around Ojota, inward or outward Lagos, depending where you are coming from or going to.  Apparently the refuse dump site dangerously located in that low-income area was “mysteriously” set on fire and the area which has endured decades of malodorous putrefaction has been hit by another malady: smoke. I did not know how bad it was until I went past Ojota last Friday and, goodness me, the atmosphere was shocking, to say the least.
The skies over Ojota and indeed Ikeja was beclouded by thick, black smoke, which hung like an umbrella over the area blocking the March sunshine and promising a haze of black sooth on the already aged and tattered roofs. I can only imagine the discomfort being experienced by the millions of people living in that area. I hate to imagine the health implications-several dangerous possibilities exist.
I remember in the 90s, when I was living in Oregun area of this same, not too far from Ojota actually, I was unable to visit my cousin who lived in Olushosun basically because of the odoriferous effluvium that oozed from this godforsaken dumpsite. Mercifully, I was spared of the odour, but I could imagine what my cousin and his family were going through. He moved away after some years, and I hope they, especially the children, were not already affected health-wise before they departed that zone.
So, now, it’s gone from bad to worse-from smell to smoke, and probably both. One of the sad realities of the situation is that the government of the day has not done much to salvage the situation. Granted the fire was an accident (or was it?) and given they will not be able to relocate the families (considering businesses and schools in the area), what plans has the government put in place to alleviate the sufferings of the people. We can start with the provision of basic nose masks to minimize the inhalation of carbon monoxide. We can consider health checks for the people when the smoke dies down. We can consider free medical services for those already living with Asthma and other respiratory diseases. We can promise free treatment for those who might contract any diseases in the aftermath of the conflagration and smoke.
More importantly we can stop the fire and the smoke. The fire service can douse the area with water to stop the fire and the smoke will disappear with it, as there’s no smoke without fire, speaking literally. Then, that dumpsite has got to move! Yes, it’s got to move. It’s too close to home. There are faraway land government can relocate the refuse dump. Of course, the waste can easily be turned to wealth, if the government can put its mind to it, so investing in a proper dumpsite complete with incinerators or conversion facilities will not be a bad or futile idea.
I’ve just been informed that the Lagos State Government, yesterday, said people who live around Olushosun should leave the area. Not too bad a move. After all, governments, for instance, in USA, would warn citizens to leave areas that are threatened by hurricanes, flood, natural disasters and man-made disasters. The only challenge is, while there is a system of welfare in the United States, there is absolutely none here. Besides, Lagos, the way it is, is already overcrowded and only God knows where these folks will relocate to.
Also, Visionscape, the new waste management agency appointed by Lagos State, has issued a statement on the incident, saying something like that they had planned to decommission Olusosun as they are on the verge of building modern dumpsites in other locations. This is also good on paper, but given the time it would take to build these new dumpsites, Olushosin residents will continue to suffer their fate.
The only other place I know where the fire burns continuously should be Gehenna, a dumpsite located outside Jerusalem (popular around AD 33 – Jesus era) and which modern day Christendom largely interprets as Hell fire, a doctrinal teaching that advocates eternal torment for sinners. Seriously, Lagos State should put out the fire. After all, it has a vision to become a megacity soonest!
-By Emeka Oparah
Smell and Smoke in Lagos! Smell and Smoke in Lagos! Reviewed by Emeka Oparah on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Rating: 5

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