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Lagos tackles trash collection with creativity

The Lagos State Waste Management Authority relies on public-private partnerships to oversee informal garbage collectors. (LSWMA)

To collect trash in Lagos, a sprawling city of 20 million, municipal authorities have to be inventive. Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi writes on that the Lagos State Waste Management Authority relies on public-private partnerships to oversee informal garbage collectors.

In many developing cities, scavengers gather waste from low-income areas using wheelbarrows and carts pulled by bikes, the article says. The refuse is often illegally dumped, fouling the environment and clogging drains. Items that could be recycled are routinely discarded.

Lagos has largely avoided those pitfalls. It reaches inner-city slums with small trucks and motorized tricycles that easily navigate narrow lanes. These vehicles offer two advantages: They can haul more waste and bring it to landfills.

There’s also oversight. Each operator must report to a “regulating body that enforces good practices and monitors service delivery,” Ladipo-Ajayi writes. Waste material is even categorized as “medical,” “industrial” and so on to ensure proper disposal. Cart pushers still exist in Lagos, but they’re on the fringes.


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