The Lagos State Chapter of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) vehemently condemns the recent closure of the Alayabiagba and Oyinbo markets by the Lagos State Government, citing improper waste disposal as the reason. We view this action as a mere attempt to divert attention from the root cause of the problem and an unjust punishment inflicted on the market traders and working people.
While we acknowledge the need for proper waste management in Lagos State, we believe that the closure of these markets, orchestrated by Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, the Lagos Commissioner for Environment, is a misguided and draconian measure that fails to address the core issue at hand. One of the major problems lies in the deeply flawed Private Sector Participation (PSP) policy introduced by the government, which primarily empowers profit-driven operators, rather than focusing on the welfare of the people. Another major problem is the fact that the market leadership is imposed on the traders by the same politicians in power and this leadership is never accountable to the traders but is loyal to the ruling party. The reason for this imposition is simply to allow for the coercion of traders to support and vote for the ruling party during the election period. Hence, it is this imposed leadership that should be sanctioned and removed for incompetence while allowing the traders to democratically and freely elect their leaders and can activate recall and removal easily whenever there is a case of incompetence or mismanagement.
The majority of PSP operators have proven themselves to be inefficient and ineffective in dealing with the waste generated by the populace. Despite the heavy financial burden placed on markets in Lagos State to sustain these operators, there is little evidence to suggest that they have met the critical task of promptly and effectively disposing of waste. The PSP operators have consistently failed to live up to their responsibilities, thereby exacerbating the issue of poor waste management across the state.
We call upon the Lagos State Government, under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to reconsider this harsh measure and prioritize the well-being of the people over the profit-driven interests of a privileged few. The closure of these markets will inflict further economic hardship not only on the hardworking women and men struggling to earn a living but also on Lagosians who depend on these markets for procurement of foodstuff and other items.
We demand the immediate reopening of the Alayabiagba and Oyinbo markets without any additional financial burden on the market traders and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operation in the markets. Previous levies imposed on these markets have failed to address the fundamental issue and ordinary traders are forced to bear the outrageous levies while the market leadership is never penalized for mismanagement and incompetence.
It is high time the government engaged in meaningful dialogue with relevant stakeholders, including market associations and waste management experts, to find lasting solutions to the waste management challenges in Lagos State. One of the way out we in the SPN suggest is the public ownership of waste management and its restoration back to the local governments as an essential public service to be democratically provided for the benefit of people in the communities. Such a public waste management must be placed under the democratic control of elected representatives of community residents, market associations and unions to ensure effective service delivery. We also demand improved wages and working conditions for waste disposal employees and the recognition of their rights to join a union of their choice.
In conclusion, the SPN Lagos State Chapter calls on the Lagos State Government to reopen the Alayabiagba and Oyinbo markets at no cost to the traders and SMEs, as it are the PSP policy that needs urgent attention and reform. We also call for democratic management of markets in Lagos State wherein traders in general democratically determine how best the markets should be managed.
Chairman, Lagos State SPN
Moshood Oshunfurewa Adebola
Secretary, Lagos State SPN