Schools were closed in Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos on Thursday, in a precautionary measure ordered by the authorities a day after a dense cloud of smog blanketed large parts of the city of more than 15 million people.
Officials blamed pollution from car emissions and industrial waste for the thick smoky mist that hung over the northern mainland areas of the city through most of Wednesday, causing panic as it irritated eyes and disrupted breathing.
Visibility was so poor that vehicles plying the roads had to use their headlights.
Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu ordered all schools closed down, while investigations began on the source of the fumes. No date was set for their reopening.
Lagos State commissioner for the environment Tunji Bello said tests conducted by his department showed unusually high levels of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere.
“It was found that the thick cloud was as a result of vehicular mobile emission arising from thousands of heavy vehicles plying Lagos roads on a daily basis, stationary emission arising from industrial stacks, chimneys and generating sets, and emission from indiscriminate burning of solid waste,” Bello told reporters.
“The incident should serve as a wake up call to all that Lagos is experiencing significant air pollution problems,” he added.
The state government will take immediate steps to curb further pollution by introducing emission tests for vehicles and stepping up inspection of industries to make sure they were equipped with “air pollution abatement devices to ensure that only clean air is discharged into the environment,” said Bello.
Lagos does not have a rail transport system and the millions of people who commute around the city daily rely on cars and buses, mostly run by private transporters. A large majority of these vehicles are old and poorly maintained.
Bode Ojajuni, the police spokesman for Lagos, said no lives had been reported lost as a result of the smog.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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