BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
Residents of Lekki area of Lagos State are ignoring the latest warning by the state government of imminent danger from Sea Level Rise, SLR, which could lead to loss of lives and property. They have remained in their homes pretending that the warnings are inconsequential.
In the wake of fresh overflow, the state government, promptly alerted residents on possible ocean surge in Lekki beaches, stressing that danger looms in the beaches and its environs.
General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency LASEMA, Dr .Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, who gave the alert, noted that accidents and emergencies that occur during festive periods could be attributed to people’s non-chalant attitude and carelessness.
He warned residents to be safety conscious and stay away from the affected areas especially, Lekki Beach, Alpha Beach and Elegushi Beach even as he urged fun seekers not to go near the beaches to avert disaster.
He added that the tidal waves began at 3am and lasted till 6am, and said a repeat of the wave might cause damage in the beaches and environs.
According to him, “For now, those residing along the shore should stay off. Those who are close to the sea can confirm that there are times the tidal waves are on the increase but the truth is that scientifically things are changing.”
According to Mr. Kayode Williams, a resident of Jakande Estate: “I woke up at about 4.am in the morning only to be confronted with this chilling water everywhere around the vicinity. Initially, I thought, I was dreaming but the second thought and I said to myself, this is another reality of ocean surge.
“Immediately, I woke my family and alerted other neighbours on the need to get to a safer place because no one could predict what the next moment would be. Actually, in the past, we have seen the worse scenario, where people lost their lives, due to negligence.
When asked if he was prepared to relocate, Williams retorted: “To where? I have lived here for donkey years. Accommodation is quite expensive in Lagos and hard to come by. I hope on God for survival.”
Latest check by Vanguard showed that no single occupant has relocated. It was gathered that the confidence of residents was rekindled as the ocean receded mid-Friday, last week. Some of the residents were seen drying up their soaked properties in the sun, apparently, to return them when fully dried up.
Gloomy picture of expected sea level rise
IT was recently predicted by experts that Sea Level Rise, SLR, and flooding will have serious implication on the health and life-style of coastal dwellers.
It is estimated that 3.2 million Nigerians could be displaced from their homes by the development. Over two million of those to be affected live in Greater Lagos (Lekki and Aja axis)and other urban areas.
Unique features of Lagos State such as high and rapidly increasing population, flat topography, extensive coastal areas and a high water table, which in some areas of Lagos Island is less than 0.15 metres from the surface, are major factors that further increase the state’s vulnerability to climate change impacts.
It is expected that many will move to areas considered to be more habitable very soon. The frequency of ocean surge on residents has been a recurring decimal with attendant loss of lives and destruction of property.
Destruction of property
Residents of Lekki area and environs, Lagos Island, during the Eid-el-Fitri holidays, woke up in the early hours of Thursday, last week, to find their homes being taken over by slight ocean surge that occurred overnight.
Though, no life was lost, properties were said to have been destroyed in the process. The situation also led to panic among residents. Most of the affected areas that experienced the overflow of the Atlantic Ocean included: Alpha Beach, Jakande, Ilisan Estate and environs, located at Lekki area, along Lekki-Epe Expressway.
Particularly, the premises of SilverBird Television, was virtually taken over by the ocean water which made movement into and out of the place almost impossible with operational vehicles grounded in the water.
Some make-shift structures erected along the affected areas were uprooted and personal belongings swept away.
The incident was largely due to the effect of climate change on the SLR of the Atlantic Ocean. Meantime, the adverse effects of climate change are already being felt by almost all sectors of the economy in the state, and it’s taking a toll on the livelihoods of majority of residents.
For example, there is increased incidences of water and vector-borne diseases, which are consequences of the changing climate in the state.
Some experts, like a university don, Dr. Dupe Olayinka, have raised doubts over the safety of Eko Atlantic City, a mega project sponsored by the Lagos State Government.
They argue that an earlier surge was exacerbated by the project but this had since been debunked by state government agencies. It will be recalled that the state government, earlier this year, raised alarm over the increase in the number of abandoned vessels on the state coastline saying; “They constitute great danger, as many communities along the coastline may fail to exist.”
President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 during his visit to the state, promised prompt release of ecological fund to protect the ocean line in the state.
According to the Commissioner for Waterfront and Infrastructure, Mr. Adesegun Oniru, who raised the issue of danger to the coastline; “the increase in the number of wrecked vessels along the state coastline constitutes grave danger to the marine environment in the state. “It is causing the degradation of the shoreline and properties on the coastline. There are over 200 abandoned vessels along coastline that has been identified by the state government.”
He alleged that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, an agency saddled with the responsibility of removing wrecked vessels, has failed to act.
Protection of coastlines
“The FG has done nothing for coastline protection without the removal of wrecks and protection of coastlines. Various letters have been written to FG since Yar Adua’s time till date and not only have we not got any help from the FG, to get a reply to our various letters is a big problem.
“This is not just a water front issue; the Ministry of Environment is also concerned. We are talking about the ecological fund as well. We have not gotten any assistance so far,” Oniru said.The commissioner lamented that the cost was huge for the state government to bear, saying “it will cost about N80 million to remove a vessel.
“However, when we realised that FG wasn’t forthcoming, last year, we began the construction of 18 Groynes, to help protect the coastlines from being eroded.
“The project is a three-year contract to terminate in March 2014. the state has constructed five of it to protect Goshen Estate and others along that coastline.