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Make Public The Environmental Impact Assessment Report On Eko Atlantic City, Experts, Residents Urge Lagos Govt

January 29, 2012

http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=16&Itemid=475

Sunday, Jan 29th
The Guardian

Make Public The Environmental Impact Assessment Report On Eko Atlantic City, Experts, Residents Urge Lagos Govt

Residents of vanishing coastal communities in Lagos — at a Climate Change roundtable in Lagos — narrate how they battle the sea to protect themselves, TUNDE AKINGBADE was there.

There is increasing fear that the Eko Atlantic City Project may have negative impact on Lagos, Ogun and some areas in the West African sub region.

A panel of experts revealed, at a roundtable on climate change and impact of the massive project on coastal communities in the Bight of Benin, that there is need for the Lagos State government to make open the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project for public analysis and scrutiny.

The stakeholders, who met in Victoria Island, Lagos last week, lamented that work had progressed on the proposed city before the people were consulted contrary to laid down EIA procedures as entrenched in EIA Act 86 of 1992.

At the meeting, entitled “Roundtable on Climate Change Adaptation in Lagos entitled; Eko Atlantic City-A dream for few or a nightmare for many, “ residents of coastal communities narrated the harrowing experiences they have had from the boisterous waves of Atlantic Ocean, which has been pounding their shores in the past five years.

Heinrich Boll Foundation, an international non- governmental organisation affiliated to the Green Party in Germany, organised the roundtable.

The event attracted residents of the communities led by Chief Yussuf Atewolara Elegushi, the Baale of Okun Alfa, Lekki, whose village has been gradually disappearing in the past one year. Elegushi, who had been seeking solution to the challenge was accompanied by his chiefs and Sheriff Elegushi, also a representative of the affected community.

Those who have been forced out of the communities also returned to share the harrowing experiences they had before fleeing the place.

The residents of Goshen Estate, Lekki said they have been having sleepless nights because of the threats of the ocean.

Many of them had moved into the expensive highbrow area within the past eight years.

Like the contentious development of the Eko Atlantic City, the design and construction of Goshen Estate were put in place by a property firm and funded by two banks. Today, the residents are literarily fighting the waves, which has constantly pounded the estate’s land. All known scientific methods such as construction of groins, sand filling and others, used by the Ocean Surge Committee, made up of residents failed. The ocean has eaten about 12 feet of sand they contributed money and deposited to fight the sea incursion.

Gbenga Okunsanya of the Goshen Estate’s Committee, narrated the resident’s predicament as the ocean waves continue to eat up the land.

According to Okunsanya, the residents did not experience the massive erosion rates, which they are now battling at the estate when they first moved in about a decade ago.

He narrated how he almost lost his life during the constant battle to save residents and properties from the Atlantic Ocean.

Some residents hinted that the erosion rate at Goshen was triggered by the way the State government managed the water channel from the inland into the sea.

Okunsanya recalled that when the community told the government that it might aggravate the problem of erosion, the state officials warned the residents not to teach them (officials) what to do; and so did not listen.

THE Heinrich Boll Foundation organised the roundtable on Eko Atlantic City following investigations and reports by The Guardian story of November 6, 2011.

Professor Emanuel Oladipo, international Climate Change expert and one of Nigeria’s negotiators at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who delivered a paper entitled; ’The Imperative for Sea Level Rise: Risk Assessment for the Development of Lagos Coastline (including the Eko Atlantic City Project)’ said that global climate predictions suggest that amongst others, sea level rise and an increase in the intensity of events may have significant impact on coastlines across the globe.

Oladipo, who is also an expert working on (EM Nigeria/ Niger Project in Niamey, Niger Republic said that Lagos, with its extensive coastlines may be particularly vulnerable to these predicted changes.

According to the professor, it is important that the Eko Atlantic City Project and other federal and state projects along the Lagos coast undertake sea level rise risk assessment that will model the predicted sea level changes in a range of scenarios (time series, incremental climate change, shear events, and storm frequency and intensity).

He said that global climate change predictions suggest amongst others, sea level rise and an increase in the intensity and frequency of storm events on coastlines across the globe. He added that Lagos with its extensive coastline may be particularly vulnerable to these predicted changes.

Oladipo regretted that “the authorities granting planning permission are not always cognisant of sea-level rise risks,” and that “assessments that report only the immediate biophysical impacts.” He suggested sea level rise adaptation strategies such sea-walls, groynes, barrages and barriers, raising infrastructure, dolosse and gabions, off shore reefs, beach nourishment and replenishment, water pumps and beach drainage.”

On biological approaches, Oladipo suggested dune cordons, coastal mangroves, estuary and wetland rehabilitation, kelp beds while on socio-institutional approaches. He added: vulnerability mapping, risk communication, enforcing a buffer zone, preventing activity that compromises the coastline (sand mining), early warning system, and insurance market correction among others.

AKO Amadi, a marine expert, who presented the lead paper on coastal cities and climate change, said that Nigeria’s coastal areas are low lying and they harbor all kinds of human activities such as oil exploration, waste disposal, exotic species, rural poverty, food insecurity and urban drift.

Amadi, who has also worked extensively on Nigeria’s coastline, from Lagos to Port Harcourt at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) many years ago, recalled the report of the Intel Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that there is scientific evidence that the rise in temperature is causing sea level rise, and that global temperatures could rise between 3 degree centigrade and 5 degrees centigrade causing the sea level to rise between 20cm and 110 cm by the end of the century.

He noted that the problems of coastal cities in developing world include maritime trade and fisheries, founding of colonies, cultural mix and tourism.

Amadi said Lagos harbours many of the industries in Nigeria and that in 1850, the population of the city was 20,000 but by 1990 it had grown to 7.7million, 13.4 million in 2000; and 15 million in 2004.

The projected population in 2015, according to him, is put at 24.5 million people that would inhabit the state’s small landmass.

The reverred environmental activist concluded that changing dynamics of the ocean currents will result in unpredictability of surges and flooding; saline water intrusion into underground wells and city aquifers, destruction of agricultural lands and “urban-heat-island-effect’ phenomenon and a negative feedback loop.

Amadi said that there should be enforcement of EIA laws, early warning systems and disaster risk reduction as well as environmental education.

Kofo Adeleke, Director, Programmes, Community Conservation and Development Initiatives, wondered why the proponents of Eko Atlantic City project were always quick to talk to foreign journalists rather than grant interviews to environmental journalists who are based in the country.

Other discussants at the event were; Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Programme Coordinator, Social and Economic Rights Action Centre, (SERAC) and Kunle Adeyemi, an architect based in The Netherlands, who referenced the Dutch experience in his reflection on the issues of developing coastal communities in the country. Country Director of Heinrich Boll Foundation, Christine K and head of the Lagos office, Monika Umunna, who coordinated the event were also present at the event.
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Author of this article: TUNDE AKINGBADE

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