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Investigations

INVESTIGATION: How The Egan Community Uses Waste Products To Stop Erosion

The unending impact of erosion caused by improper river-drainage channels has made residents of Egan community resort to dumping waste products in river banks to control flooding.

The Egan community is under the Alimosho Local Government of Lagos State. The community houses thousands of local and middle classes residents who work as entrepreneurs with small scale businesses across the community, capital investors or professionals in the outer Lagos region.

The community plays host to the Igando district Police station, Lagos State Housing Estate Avenue, major public and private schools as well as other foundational institutes. 

Up until the reconstruction of the two major roads that lead into the community by the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, the community had suffered poor road networks, improper drainage channels, flooding, rising insecurity, poor electricity and increases in tariff plans as well as poor access to government interventions or palliative care.

These challenges drove the community to self-help – using bags of stones to fill potholes on roads, storing waste products at the bank of rivers to control erosion, landlords taking night shifts as security men to protect the community, youths volunteering to be night securities and holding community meetings to discuss electricity challenges and resolutions.

As some of these challenges get solved by the government, the community still suffers flooding from its river channel. The erosion has taken over many houses closer to the riverbank, forcing owners to either flee or sell out. 

Speaking with a resident, he said: “If you want to really know the bad condition, come during the rainy season. You can barely walk on the road. Since there’s no drainage, the water just flows down, enters into the houses. Some of us have protected our environment with concrete fencing but still, water still gets through many.”

On a tour of the community, it was observed that residents throw their waste into the river. The idea is that it would fill-up the river which would, in turn, stop the erosion. The managers at the river site collect hard waste products for about N100 per sack and dispose it into the river. The money collected would be used to burn the dirt, level it and ensure the smell is contained. 

Bottles and plastics would be stored in a separate place to be sold for recycling or petty traders who make use of it. Cartons and hard papers are also included in storage for sales.

Aside from the waste management business, other lower-class residents pick bottles and irons at the site and sell to recyclers who would pay them in cash. This is their method for daily survival. It was also observed that local children come to hand-pick useful materials like books, clothes and toys to take home. Some dilapidated houses around the site were homes and shelter for the poor and people suffering from mental health issues. 

This reporter noticed that the dumping site covered over 10 plots and this could attract health hazards including the spread of infections and diseases. 

One Mr Akins said: “It has been on for years, if not decades. It’s just like a tradition. That is where we pour our dirt since we don’t have the Lagos waste management trucks coming around here. Once your dirt is filled, you take it down and pay for it to be disposed of. The idea is that it would be used to fill the waters. In fact, people with lands on the water are happy for the fill-up. On the other side, we have had bridges constructed through these that connects our community to another ‘Ayobo’. “

In further investigation, two bridges were visited. While one is motorable – filled with clay sand and broken blocks, the other is made from wood, only for pedestrians.

However, with the steady growth in the community, it is anticipated that the government comes to the community’s aid to proffer alternatives for their local waste management procedures.

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