Lagos community where printers rake in money, leave residents with deadly pollution – Punch Newspapers

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According to the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, air pollution was responsible for 30,000 premature deaths in Lagos in 2021. However, despite efforts of the agency to curb the menace of pollution, residents of the Shomolu are lamenting how the operations of printers using all sorts of diesel generators in their community have made breathing a struggle for them. ANGELA ONWUZOO reports
Shomolu community located in the Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State is unarguably the rallying point for most printing work in Lagos. That Shomolu has the highest concentration of printers in Lagos is indisputable. Even though the area is densely populated as a residential community, most of the residential streets are also littered with printing outlets. In Shomolu, printers are ubiquitous. They are practically everywhere and the number of printing outlets in the community increases yearly, an indication that business is good.
Residents of Shomolu have, however, raised the alarm over the activities of some printing companies in the area.
Some of the residents who spoke with PUNCH HealthWise lamented the dependence of these printing outlets on all sorts of generators for their operations, noting that these generators have become a great source of air and noise pollution and a great health threat.
 An investigation by PUNCH HealthWise revealed that some of the generators used by some of the printers in the area are in horrible states and could indeed cause health hazards as a result of the deadly fumes they are emitting.

Our correspondent observed during different visits to the area that not only are some of the diesel generators that the printers are using old but most of them could also be faulty as they are causing not only noise pollution but equally emitting very thick black smoke whenever they are in use.
 The surroundings where these generators are kept, our correspondent observed have become dark with the black smoke pollution. The black smoke pollution has also defaced most of the buildings housing them.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the black fumes spewing into the streets daily from these generators only stop when they are turned off.
Gathered that some of the printers and owners of these generators have refused to change despite complaints by residents citing economic reasons that have made things tough. Yet, the fumes from these generators constitute health hazards to the residents.
Worst still, our correspondent learnt that some of the owners of these generators are not connected to the national grid. They prefer using generators for their operations to avoid high electricity bills. So, their generators are always working, emitting smoke and making strident noise even at times when there is a public power supply to the area.

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The lamentation of the Shomolu residents is coming less than three weeks after the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency released a report that revealed that air pollution was responsible for 30,000 premature deaths in the state in 2021.
According to LASEPA, 22,500 out of the number were children. This confirms that children are often the worst hit when things go wrong in society.
 Our correspondent also gathered that the owners of these noisy and poorly maintained generators insist on using them because they consume less diesel than silent and soundproof generators.
Some of the residents who shared their frustrations with PUNCH HealthWise said it was regrettable that the printers operating in the area are making money and laughing to the banks at the expense of their health while the government agency in charge of the environment watches despite knowing the impact of air pollution on human health.
“Generator fumes emanating from a printing company located in our compound are causing us (tenants) so much discomfort and we don’t even know the impact it would have on our health in the future.

“As if that is not enough, the noise from these diesel generators alone is frustrating and distressing. Since a printer moved into this compound about 10 years ago, life has become very unbearable for every tenant living here. What is still holding some of us back from packing out of the compound is the lack of money to rent another place.
“The worst part of it is that while other houses have one big diesel generator disturbing them, in our case, we are unfortunate to have two and I can boldly tell you that they are destroying our lives daily,” a mother of three, Mrs. Abigail Babajide who lives at Adurosakin Street, Shomolu, told PUNCH HealthWise.

Asthmatic patient escapes death

Narrating her experience, Mrs. Babajide, a trader and indigene of Oyo State told our correspondent that most of the tenants often complain of incessant headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

She recalled, “There was one asthmatic woman that was living here before with her husband and four children. After having an increased incidence of asthmatic attacks caused by the generator fumes, they have to borrow money and look for another house outside Shomolu.
“One fateful Saturday afternoon, the fumes almost choked her to death but she was lucky her children and husband were around. So, they quickly got her inhaler but the attacks failed to subside, So, they quickly rushed her to Shomolu General where she was revived. A few months after that unfortunate experience, they packed out of the house.

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“The most troubling thing about my situation is that the owner of the printing company has a generator in front of the compound emanating fumes and another inside the company. The one inside the compound is close to my window.
“Once these two generators are on, the whole compound and all the rooms here will be filled with smoke and when you try to stay outside, the fumes will also not allow you. It is indeed a terrible situation.”
The Oyo State indigene told our correspondent that she and her children were always having health issues as a result of the incessant noise and air pollution in the area.
Our children suffering from incessant cough
Continuing, the businesswoman said, “My children and I are always suffering from cough, headaches, and fatigue. We rarely have quality sleep at night. And all these started when the printing company was sighted in our compound because we were not having any health issues before the printer moved in here.

“We complained to the landlord and nothing concrete came out of it because he is not living with us and all he cares about is his money for rent.
“We have also confronted the owner of the printing company about how his generators were exposing us to health problems and the need for him to get silent diesel-powered generators and he remained adamant. All he cares about is his business and making money.
“The most annoying thing is that the owner of the printing firm does not use electricity from the national grid because he is afraid of their bills.
“But his generators are very old and faulty that is why they are noisy and bring out a lot of thick black smoke whenever he is using them. And he also works at night. You can imagine our plight.”
“We no longer enjoy sleep at night, everyone living in the compound is stressed. No matter how you try to close your doors and windows, the fumes will still find their way into the room. We want the Lagos State government to come to our rescue.

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“The printer is aware that his activities are causing health problems to the residents by polluting the environment, so the government should not keep quiet and just watch us die slowly and prematurely,” Mrs. Babajide further lamented.
Another resident troubled by the air pollution in the area is Mr. Christopher Akpan.

Eye problem

The Akwa Ibom State indigene told PUNCH HealthWise that the fumes from these generators usually cause him eye irritation.
“I am always using eye drops. As I speak with you, I have high blood pressure. No doubt the constant noise that I am exposed to daily by the sounds of these generators may contribute to it because it is causing me serious mental stress. I also don’t sleep well at night.
“Some of these printers even work all through the night with their noisy and smoky generators.

“When you sleep at night with black smoke and noise everywhere, when you wake up in the morning, you become tired and confused. That has been my experience with my family for over five years that we have been living in this area,” the tailor decried.

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