Lagos Emergency Manager harps on attitudinal change

Luqmon Balogun, Lagos

L-R; DG/CEO LASEMA, Dr. Olufemi Oke–Osanyintolu, Commissioner Ministry of Special Duties & Intergovernmental Relations, Dr. Wale Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jimoh Yusuf at the 2019 Intl. Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on Wednesday 16 October 2019 at Johnson Jakande Tinubu Park Alausa, Ikeja Lagos.

Lagos State residents have been challenged to adopt a positive change in their attitude towards waste disposal, construction of buildings among others.

At the occasion of the 2019 International Day for Disaster Reduction, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke Osanyintolu said that everyone has to be proactive to mitigate against disaster.

Osanyintolu explained that the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has measures in place to address disaster whenever it strikes, stressing the need for people to support his government.

“People need to shift from a negative behavioural change to a positive change. Issues such as dumping of refuse, construction of buildings; taking care of vehicles, especially articulated vehicles need to be treated with utmost importance. People need to do the needful. We’ve done advocacy and we continue to do so, but we can’t do it alone,” he said.

Participants during a road show to sensitise residents on disaster management.

He stated that Lagos, as part of the global village is becoming more dangerous due to rapidly growing population of more than 20 million, urban development in coastal areas, poor planning and construction in high risk region, poor enforcement of building codes, among others.

According to him, “It is instructive to note that the world is not a very safe place to live in these days as disaster might strike in the form of natural calamities, terrorist’s attacks and accidents at any moment. However, at the same time, it is increasingly clear that human behaviour plays a large part in determining outcomes of disaster and that there are limits to the ability of emergency managers to control such outcomes. Hence, there is need for communities to become self-reliant and appreciate the threat they face.”

New framework
He said: “It is important to note, that the new “Sendai Seven” campaign, which centres on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework, an advocacy initiative to encourage the implementation of key frameworks and systems with the goal of saving lives, reducing disaster losses and improving management of disaster risk includes the following: Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030 and substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030.

“Also, it points to the reduction of direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030; Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services; Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020; Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030; and Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.”

The LASEMA boss noted that there was a need for synergy amongst all first responders in the State which include Lagos State Building Control Agency, Fire Services, RRS, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, LASAMBUS, SEHMU, LASTMA and other secondary responders.

Being empirical
The Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Dr. Wale Ahmed stated that to reduce risks, one must be able to scientifically, empirically and otherwise evaluate and assess the risks one is exposed to.

The Commissioner said: “What happens in other parts is different from what we face here. Areas such as Asia, where they’re exposed to natural disasters like Tsunamis and typhoons, is something we’re not exposed to. Issues as our population in relation to land mass pose a risk to Lagos. Topography is another factor to be considered. There’s need to understand this in relation to flooding risks. We must consider high lands, low lands, swamps, etc., when building.

“Scientific projections such as climate change are yet another factor to be considered. So, to reduce these risks, we have LASEMA in place. There should be capacity building in terms of workshops, symposium and training of staff. Simulation aimed at creating disaster-like scenarios in trying to diffuse perceived situations should be carried out periodically. These planned simulations must be timed, to test response of personnel to real disasters if and when they occur”.

The Commissioner equally stressed the need to make provision for necessary infrastructure in terms of heavy duty trucks and such equipment and improve coordination with other responders.

Ahmed, however, commended the Lagos Response Unit, LRU, Local Emergency Committee and other critical stakeholders set up in the management of disaster in the State for a job well done.


Sammie Idika