Market sanitation: Abuse of sanitation laws pose serious health hazard to traders, buyers

Sanitation in markets across the country is gradually becoming an issue of serious health concern to government, traders and other stakeholders connected to their activities.

From observation, measures put in place in the past to ensure cleaner environment have failed. One of such is the weekly environmental sanitation in markets every Thursday.

Despite these and many more methods introduced to ensure effective refuse management, the markets are becoming worse by the day in terms of cleanliness, creating health risk for both sellers and buyers.
One of the reasons given for this is the failure of the local governments, mandated by the constitution to administer the markets.
The sight of some of the markets, especially major markets in Ogun and Lagos reveal flagrant abuse of environmental laws, as put in place by various state governments.

Wastes are disposed indiscriminately around stalls and open spaces available in the market, and where there is arrangement for gathering of refuse, it piles up for more than two weeks, with putrid odour hanging in the air.
Aside farm produce remnants, plastic bottles, nylons, edible goods and other wastes always litter the entire market.

Some of the markets include-the popular Mile 12, Ile-Epo/Oja, Agege, Mosafejo, Awolowo and Ladipo Auto spare part markets, all within Lagos State. While in Ogun, the likes of Sango, Lafenwa, Kuto, Ifo, Wasinmi, Arigbajo, Lusada and many more fall under the category.

On several occasions, Lagos State had wielded the big stick on some of these erring markets. The Guardian recalls that the Ladipo spare parts market had been shut down for about three times, likewise Ile-Epo/Oja and Mile 12 for what government described as abuse of sanitation laws and indiscriminate dumping of refuse.

The case of Ladipo market seems to be a bit peculiar, as the traders were accused of littering the drainage channels and canal in the market with dirts.
The case of Ile-Epo and Mile 12 are similar, as both are known for farm produce. But immediately trucks off loads the market produce and each trader gets his or her share and pays, the debris from the vehicles are left to constitute menace within the market.

The same scenario is still playing out in Sango and Ifo, where refuse can be left to pile up for weeks.

A trader in Ile-Epo, Madam Ajoke Ayuba, said the blame should be put on government because the necessary tickets, including sanitation fee are paid into local government coffers on daily basis.

She added that once they generate waste and drop it at the point where they put their refuse, it is the council's responsibility to evacuate it and not the traders.

What can be done to curb this?
An health expert based in Abeokuta, Mr. Oluwafemi Ojo, who condemned government inaction on the issue, adviced that there is need to go back to the era of using sanitary inspectors (Wole Wole), that would sanction sanitation offenders, noting that though they still exist, but have neglect their duties despite their huge monthly salaries.

He warned that though nobody appears to be paying any attention to the issue now, he described it as a time-bomb that may soon explode that may cost government and other stakeholders a lot of money, time and energy, like the case of Lassa Fever.

Culled from The Guardian Newspaper, November 2016