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Our Vanishing Coastlines

THE challenge of halting the erosion of our coastlines has moved from a mere media campaign to a group protesting the neglect to government.

A resolution is still pending.

Erosion threats the coastal areas are facing are treated with the same disinterest as erosion that that have left gullies in many villages in the South East. Coast erosion has the additional challenge of the management of wrecked and abandoned vessels.

Lekki seems to be the focus of the protest, but the problem is more wide spread.

Silence from other quarters could be partially from ignorance or occupation with the daily travails of survival.

Lagos State Government once responded in two days to a protest from the indigenes of Lekki, calling for removal of abandoned ships and saving the coastal communities and businesses in that axis from the imminent invasion of the Atlantic Ocean.

An indigene of Lekki led some government officials to inspect the affected area. He pledged the state government would intervene though the matter was the responsibility of the Federal Government.

Months after the visit nothing has been done. The ferocious currents of the Atlantic have not abetted.

The erosion is downing palm trees that not only provide relaxation for tourists but also for the seashore. Abandoned ships are still there. Experts say it would be more expensive to remove them the longer they are abandoned.

The ocean is advancing menacingly towards populated areas, especially with the uncontrolled development of the coastlines, involving sand filling, and most of the jobs poorly done.

Why is government waiting? Officials of the appropriate federal and state agencies pay only lip service to the issue. Are they waiting for an emergency so that the enormity of the problem could be appreciated?

When this problem was initially highlighted, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Mr. Temisare Omatseye, was at the scene of one of the abandoned ships. He made the usual government promises and since then nothing has been heard from him.

The Lekki example is in the news, not because it is the only area scourged by marine erosion and abandoned ships. Its nearness to the media offers it some advantage.

Other coastal towns like Bonny, Ugborodo, and Brass could be in bigger trouble. Indigenes of most of these places are aware of the dangers of their surroundings but they are hampered by lack of access to the media to press their cases.

However, the continued neglect of the Lekki coastal erosion is a mystery of sorts because it is one of the new zones the Lagos State Government is proposing for its mega-city projects.

The absence of any meaningful efforts to implement coastal erosion control is in line with governments’ attitude to the welfare of Nigerians. Obviously, little was learnt from the threat the Bar Beach posed to lives and property before it was controlled.
Coastal erosion control is expensive and it is a responsibility the Federal Government must embrace without further delay.

The ease with which ship owners abandon them raises other issues about the security of our territorial waters.

The national attitude to the security of our territorial waters is appalling. The Lekki coastal erosion – so close to attention, yet unattended – is just one of the numerous sad examples of how government does little to protect Nigerians. This attitude needs to change.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.