The Lagos State Government and the PSP Waste Operators have resolved their differences out of court.
The Lagos High Court was on Wednesday told that the PSP Waste Operators and the State Government have settled the dispute pending before the Court.
Recall that all the 350 PSP Waste Operators had dragged the Lagos State Government and Visionscape Limited to court on January 31, 2017, contesting the decision to jettison the existing PSP waste operators for a new investor, for the collection and disposal of wastes in Lagos State.
Justice Oyekan Abdullahi had earlier in the year, directed the parties to meet in order to resolve all the issues in controversy between them so as to achieve the overall objective of a cleaner Lagos.
The court was later informed that the settlement had broken down, whereupon the case was adjourned to October 3, 2017, for trial to commence.
When the case came up yesterday, a Lagos Lawyer and human rights activist representing the PSP operators, Ebun-Olu Adegbourwa, told the court that the waste operators have met with the Lagos State Government and had bought into the vision of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the Cleaner Lagos Initiative.
The lawyer informed the court further that Governor Ambode has in turn directed that all existing PSP waste operators should be absorbed into the new Cleaner Lagos Initiative so that none of them will be sidetracked.
Adegboruwa also said that based on this new understanding, it would not be good to continue to pursue any hostility in court, even as the government has shown enough good faith with the publication of some names of newly certified operators in the newspapers, although the claimants are still collating their comments thereto.
He then informed the court that the details of the terms of settlement are being worked out with the Attorney-General of Lagos State and a final report would be made available to the court when parties and their counsel have concluded on the terms of settlement.
Adegboruwa conveyed the appreciation of the PSP operators to the court for the mature intervention in the dispute that has brought about lasting peace and which he was confident would lead to a cleaner Lagos.
A Director in the Ministry of Justice, S.A Quadri, who represented the Lagos State Government in court, confirmed the position as stated by Adegbourwa.
According to him, the government was committed to the dialogue and settlement that is ongoing, following which about 213 of the existing PSP operators have been absorbed into the new vision for cleaner Lagos. All the other counsel for the other defendants also confirmed the settlement to the court.
Justice Oyekan Abdullahi, after listening to all the counsels, commended the parties and their counsels, for embracing settlement in the very sensitive matter, given its consequences to the environment had the dispute persisted.
The Judge told the lawyers that their resolve to settle was in tandem with the new spirit of alternative dispute resolution, now being adopted globally, to fasttrack justice delivery.
She then encouraged them to ensure that they get more committed to the settlement and filed the details thereof in court before the next date of adjournment, for it to be adopted as judgment of the court. The case was then adjourned to 26thOctober, 2017, for report of settlement.
It will be recalled that the PSP Waste Operators had approached the Court on January 31, 2017, to challenge the proposed new policy of the Lagos State Government, to bring foreign investors to take over waste collection and management in Lagos State. Amongst other reliefs, they were claiming from the court, the following reliefs:
(A) A DECLARATION that the Claimants as Private Sector Participants-Waste Operators, Stakeholders and Investors in Waste Collection, Transportation and Disposal Management in Lagos State, are entitled to collect, transport and dispose of Domestic solid waste in Lagos State.
(B) A DECLARATION the Claimants are entitled to remain and function as waste operators entitled to collect, transport and dispose of Domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State.
(C) A DECLARATION that the decision of the 1st-3rd Defendants to transfer, remove, eject, or in any other manner disturb or hinder the Claimants from collecting, transporting and disposing of Domestic solid waste in Lagos State is inequitable, arbitrary and inconsistent with the rights and obligations of the Claimants.
(D) A DECLARATION that the decision of the 1st-3rd Defendants to transfer, remove, eject or in any other manner disturb or hinder the Claimants from collecting, recouping and or managing directly the proceeds of domestic solid waste services rendered by the Claimants is inequitable, arbitrary and inconsistent with the rights and obligations of the Claimants.
(E) A DECLARATION that the decision of the 1st-3rd defendants to license one or two waste collector(s) solely as the operator(s) to collect and dispose Domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State is arbitrary and inconsistent with the rights and obligations of the Claimants.
(F) A DECLARATION that the 1st-3rd Defendants are not entitled to license, authorize or permit any person(s), body or organization(s), especially and including the 4th-6th defendants, as the sole operators to collect Domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State.
(G) AN INJUNCTION restraining the 1st-3rd Defendants, their servants, officers or privies from authorizing, licensing or permitting any person(s), body or organization(s), especially and including the 4th-6th defendants, as the sole operators to collect Domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State, to the exclusion and detriment of the claimants.
(H) AN INJUNCTION restraining the 1st-3rd Defendants from transferring, removing, and or ejecting from the Claimants herein, the collection of proceeds of domestic waste services, rendered by the Claimants, being currently collected, recouped and/or managed directly by the Claimants.
(I) AN ORDER directing the 1st-3rd Defendants to continue working, relating, partnering with and recognizing the Claimants as waste operators entitled to collect, transport and dispose of Domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State.
(J) AN INJUNCTION restraining the 1st-3rd defendant from terminating, cancelling, annulling or in any order manner jeopardizing or determining the operations of the Claimants as Domestic solid waste operators in Lagos State.
(K) AN INJUNCTION restraining the 4th-6th defendants from taking over the collection, disposal and management of Domestic solid waste in all areas of Lagos State.