By Wale Bakare.
The recent Ocean surge experienced within the Kuramo beach in Lagos, which swept away not fewer than twenty picnickers during the 2012 Eid-el- fitri celebration and rendered many of its inhabitant homeless, has further exposed our coastal line to danger with great environmental complications if not remedied urgently. The series of activities that has now led to the temporary closure of the beach has wrecked havoc to the neighbouring boundaries and loss of marine lives. This is not the first time that storm of such magnitude will be tormenting people’s lives in this region, what remains most regrettable is the human interference with the Lagoon coupled with the fact that proactive steps were overtly delayed to address the ecological challenges faced by the people living along the coastline despite repeated advocacy on climate change impacts in the country. The rising sea level and extreme storm-driven waves pose direct risks to the state’s coastal resources.
This is a persistent problem that needs our urgent attention; you will recall that in August 2011 the Atlantic Ocean overflowed its limits along the Alfa Beach coastline in Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State. This surge led to the incidental flooding of the Lekki Beach-Okun Aja access road and its environs for about two hours and salty flood water gained access to adjacent buildings within Alfa Beach community and the neighboring Estates near Igbo Efon Estate. The surge also affected many lives and properties, the visit and the timely intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan restored normalcy to the area. Today, we are aware of global warming all over the world caused by the increasing tidal storms, ice caps and glacier retreats and most importantly the human activities such as the illegal sand-miners and dredging as it was with the Kuramo’s case. However, despite these life threatening challenges, we continue to cuddle disasters in its many corollaries.
Ocean surge occurs virtually all over the world, but the recently concluded multi-million naira Eko Atlantic project cannot be totally ruled out as a major surge catalyst. This project distorts the Kuramo lagoon with the dredging activities being undertaken by the Lagos State government by dredgers, who by their actions have further increased pollution and exterminated marine lives. What we fail to understand is the fact that, when we dredge, we are inadvertently offsetting the natural balance; this affects the surge breakers as it does have nowhere to break, which forces the ocean to forge across the road and wreck havoc. Failure to observe simple environmental laws early enough and non adherence to expert warning might eventually lead to a minor earth tremor in our shores which could lead to a near fatal experiences as witnessed by countries like Japan, Mexico and North Korea to mention a few. You will agree with me that there are so many buildings and structures built directly on the earth natural drainage areas or flood plains that prevent water movements and thus lower pressures. The sea-distance from the expressway gives residence a false sense of safety. We have to learn our lessons from major international disasters such as the Tsunami and the hurricane Katrina by further reducing human interferences and preserving the shores for the unborn generations.
The need for the full implementations of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) amendment bill which has passed through its second reading (last we heard about the bill) on the floor of the Senate. This bill, if given the urgent attention that it requires would better protect our lives and property from natural hazards and effectively deal with most of our environmental problems in the country. Environmental offenders should be heavily fined and subsequently charged to court for libel. The government should encourage proper methodologies to the processes of dredging which will put a substantial end to the negative environmental effects of dredging. During the Senate deliberations on the Asa Dam project, emphasis was laid on the need to engage professionals that will ensure the beneficial use of dredged materials just like in advanced countries. The waste which becomes a resource this time is used for public benefits i.e by offsetting the environmental impacts of the dredging which can reduce sand migrations along shorelines. A step further would be to critically examine the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports on coastline projects embarked upon by the various levels of government and work with the necessary agency to ensure all parties involved comply with the regulations. The Senate committee on Environment and Ecology led by Senator Bukola Saraki has also promised to continue to push for laws geared towards improving the environment and the standards of living generally for all Nigerians. Other government environmental agencies have also decried the danger in the continuous pushing of the ocean backwards as it could lead to a mutiny in the nearest future. As individuals, our collective resolve on issues that could lead to environmental degradation will help nip the bud in time before it spawns to a major disaster.
Wale Bakare is a writer and a social media enthusiast with strong affection for Agriculture, politics and the conservation of the environment. He has published works on numerous online blogs & Magazines. Wale writes for Bailiff Africa from Lagos, Nigeria and can be reached on Twitter at @waleflame and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.