Lagos may become a toxic E-Waste Dump

Computing

According to the Basel Action Network (BAN), a Seattle-based environmental group, an estimated 500 shipping containers with a load equal in volume to 400,000 computer monitors or 175,000 large TV sets enter Lagos each month. As much as 75 percent of some shipments are classified as e-waste.

"The reasons for this huge influx of e-waste into Lagos are not far fetched," Peter Ejiofor, a Lagos dealer in second hand computers told IPS. "Lagos has a large sea port where the items easily slip through, also there is a huge appetite for cheap second hand imported electronics items in the city," he says.

But Lagos is paying a huge environmental cost for these cheap items. Most of the imported items get discarded almost as soon as they are shipped into Lagos. "E-waste is a major problem, it's a major challenge, we have a pile up of them," Ola Oresanya, managing director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), told IPS.

With no facilities to recycle e-wastes, they are indiscriminately discarded around the city. Some of them end up in dumpsites where they are burnt. Environmentalists have expressed concern about this. "It is a very worrisome situation because components from these electronic items are very hazardous," Leslie Adogame of the Nigerian Environmental Society told IPS.

He is particularly concerned about the health implication. "There is open burning. Some components produce a lot of particulate matters," he says. "People around the areas where the wastes are being burnt have to be suffering from chest-related diseases because they inhale a lot of noxious substances," he added.

Oresanya says LAWMA is concerned about the dangers posed by e-waste. Education has been one of the main actions taken by the authorities to curb the menace. "We have been educating people against burning e-wastes. We believe they would change," he says.

But Adogame believes combating e-waste should go beyond education. He says the way out is for the establishment of "an integrated system to manage the waste."

To combat the enormous task, Lagos authorities are looking to the private sector for assistance. "We have been talking with the organised private sector who have the wherewithal to manage the disposal of these e-wastes to come in and assist us," says Oresanya.

Inter Press Service