Most adults still have vivid memory of how one Isaac Durojaiye Agbetusin (
Otunba Gadaffi, as he was fondly called, stood up to solve a problem for his boss, the late Moshood Abiola,
Before the explosion of event centres, night parties happened on Lagos streets and inside school premises. The upshot of social gatherings then was the litters of nylons, broken bottles and hidden layers of human waste at every party venue.
But in a few years, DMT had wormed itself into the hearts of event planners as Gadaffi, a graduate of Graphic Arts and former security aide to the late MKO Abiola, smiled to the banks with money made from evacuating human waste.
He expanded the ‘shit’ business beyond Nigeria towards Ghana before he died in 2012. Of course, the DMT office still exists under the valley of Isheri along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogun State, the business has not grown beyond where Gadaffi left it.
Today, there is an increasing rate of open defecation. There are a few toilet facilities in public institutions, including hospitals and the Lagos State Government Secretariat, Alausa,where visitors now pay as low as N50 to use the convenience.
As big as the Tafawa Balewa Square in
When former Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), assumed office in 2007, one of his key agenda was to beautify Lagos and to stop open defection by turning open spaces to recreation parks.
His government came with environmental law against open defecation, which stipulated instant judgement
Then, the offenders were subjected to public humiliation. The government compelled them to wash toilet and sweep the street as punishment for defecating in the open.
Expectedly, the enforcement of the environmental law was ineffective, as it is now,because successive governments have failed to make available public toilets.
The failure of the government is more felt at various motor parks and market places. These areas are always filthy with choking, unpleasant and irritating stench of urine and faeces.
Though our correspondent observed toilet facilities in Oshodi and Ketu motor parks, the numbers are not enough for the multitude that troop into the place on a daily basis.
Various associations of traders and National Association of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) manage the toilets.
Mrs. Alimot Kareem, a resident, told our correspondent inside Ketu Market that “its
She said, “That is why, most times, some people climb up the bridge to defecate in the open. They don’t pay and they do so mostly in the night when nobody will see them. There are bathrooms here also.”
But Iyanu Peter, the personal assistant to the managing director of DMT Services, told Africana Entrepreneur that the vision of the founder was to curb open defecation.
She explained that those who took after DMT messed up the business, but because of strong foundation, it had continued to wax stronger. At the time DMT was launched as ‘shit’ business, a mobile facility cost N90,000; but today, it is about N300,000.
Parts of the services DMT renders, include visiting of clients’ homes to empty septic tanks. Though the service is still visible, some of its sewage suction trucks are moribund as the company struggles with the unfavourable forex market.
With the cost of a sewage suction truck ranging between $22,000 and $33,000, depending on the capacity, only a few people could invest into shit business. Perhaps that is why DMT has continued to dominate the sector.
According to Peter, DMT rents out a VIP sewage suction truck for septic tank evacuation at N275,000 while a mobile toilet is rented out at N60,000 plus N5,000 as transport fare.
This sounds lucrative for a serious investor.
According to the human resources manager of DMT (name withheld), the business could not die despite the current economic recess because the company has the expertise and quality equipment to do well.
The death of Otunba Gadaffi has dwindled the business. However, Lagos is making efforts to encourage investors to go into the business.
Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, Mr. Mukaila Sanusi, told our correspondent that Lagos hadbeen receiving proposals from intending investors in modern public toilet.
He said, “There is ongoing public/private partnership between Lagos government and Reckitt Benckiser, makers of Harpic toilet cleaner. The company has rehabilitated four public toilet facilities and we will need more investors in this direction.”
Out of 500 toilet facilities in Lagos, few have been taken over by Reckitt Benckiser for renovation. This, however, is infinitesimal compared to the population of hoodlums who hide under the bridges and uncompleted buildings across the metropolis to defecate, particularly in Lagos Island.
Investigation shows that no fewer than 800 people migrate to Lagos daily from different parts of the country and beyond. Many of them do not have access to toilet to accommodate their conveniences and thus join the numbers of those who defecate indiscriminately at public places. There is huge investment opportunity in the shit business.
Sanusi said that the ministry of the environment had received proposals from investors and is currently considering it with the ministry of physical planning on where to situate more public toilets in the state.
A few months ago, President MuhammaduBuhari lamented that the nation was rated the second worst country where open defecation is still being practised. To Sanusi, this is not a good record at all, adding, “In Lagos, we have directed all eateries and petrol stations to make their toilet available for residents or visitors pending the expansion of public toilet in the state.”
He explained that the main challenge is that those who want to invest in shit business do not have adequate fund and expertise to start.
“We do not encourage mobile toilet. The government wants those who are ready to build good structures with necessary facility and manpower to run it. It is a lucrative business. It is like putting one seed in the ground and reap the fruits everyday. And to become one of the investors, it only takes a token to register with the government and submit a good proposal,” he said.
While encouraging investors to buy into the idea of ‘shit’ business, Sanusi
According to him, those who defecate openly have attitude problem because the few number of public toilets are enough to meet their needs.
“They are not ready to pay just N50, but prefer to do it openly. This is attitude problem,” he said.
At the Lagos State Waste Water Management Office, the agency that deals with the evacuation of septic tanks, one Mrs. Aderemi Falae said beside that the government regulates the evacuation of wastes, it ensures that those investing in shit business must procure quality equipment to do so.
But the main problem is that Lagosians prefer to patronise quacks, who station their obsolete waste suction trucks beside the Lagoon for messy operation.