The High Court of Lagos State on Friday, 23rd June, 2017, in a suit commenced by the Incorporated Trustees of Association of Waste Managers in Nigeria (PSP operators), refused to issue any restraining order as prayed by the PSP operators, seeking to restrain the Lagos State Government from engaging any other entity to carry out domestic waste collection in Lagos State.
The Court also held that it is premature to consider applications that will determine the substance of the suit.
Consequently, the Court made an order for accelerated hearing of the matter. Flowing from this, the Court adjourned the matter for 4 (Four) consecutive days in October 2017 for trial.
Also, the Counsel to the 4th and 5th Defendants(Visionscape Group & Visionscape Sanitation Solution) informed the Court of his motion for leave of Court to file a Further Counter Affidavit which was objected to by the Counsel to the PSP operators.
This led to a heated debate between the Counsel to the PSP operators and the 4th and 5th Defendants. Thus, the court stood down the matter in order to restore calm.
At the resumed hearing, Counsel to the PSP operators made an oral request to the Court for the status quo to be maintained. Also, he prayed that the Lagos State Government should be restrained from engaging any other person to take over domestic waste collection in Lagos State.
In opposing the application by PSP operators, Mr. S.A. Quadri, lead Counsel to Lagos State government stated that the contracts between the aforesaid PSP operators and the Lagos State Government had since expired at different times and the latest in November, 2016.
Sequel to the expiration of the aforesaid contract, the Lagos State Government in December 2016, entered into a contract with another Nigerian company to carry out domestic waste collection in the State.
He further stated that the aforesaid company will be utilizing their funds and employing modern technology of comparable standard with the one utilized in developed countries, to carry out domestic waste collection in Lagos State.
Mr. Quadri stated that the expired transactions between Lagos State and the PSP operators were not sustainable as the Government was bleeding cash. Whereas, the newly engaged contractor will deploy its funds and equipment to achieve the Cleaner Lagos Initiative. He added that it is a cost saving measure for the State Government.
He said the Lagos State Government is also not oblivious of the business concerns and livelihood of the PSP operators and has made adequate provision for them. They are meant to handle commercial waste disposal in Lagos State.
The Counsel to the 4th and 5th Defendants further stated that the Lagos State government had invited the PSP operators for re-certification and more than 90% of them had complied. Thus, making the suit an academic exercise.
The lawyer posited that despite the expiration of the contract between the Lagos State Government and the PSP operators, they want the Government to continue to engage them for domestic waste collection by force at their own terms.
The counsel to Lagos State Government also argued that even if the agreements between the State Government and the PSP operators were subsisting, the Government has the right to terminate the agreements pursuant to the termination clauses therein.
He concluded that the PSP operators, therefore, did not have any right upon which to base their case as there is no agreement between Lagos State Government and the Claimants.
In spite of all these, he said the Lagos State Government is still desirous of keeping the PSP operators engaged.
Trial will commence in the matter on 3rd October, 2017, pursuant to the order for accelerated hearing made by the Court.