COASTAL lands are huge assets to the countries and the peoples to which they belong. But lands located near the oceans, or surrounded by it, also have their downsides. The story of Atlantis which supposedly sank beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean is regarded as a myth. Today, however, archaeologists have discovered there are many sunken ancient cities around the globe.
A recent frightening scientific projection suggests that Lagos, a low-lying city on Nigeria’s Atlantic coast, may become uninhabitable by the end of this century due to rising sea levels occasioned by climate change.
According to a study published by Climate Central, a research group, low-lying coastal cities in some parts of the world (of which Lagos is one) may sink below the high-tide line and become permanently submerged by 2100, if sea levels continue to rise. The scientists have predicted that global sea levels will rise more than two metres by the end of this century, endangering Lagos which is less than two metres above the sea level.
Sadly, a previous study by the University of Plymouth, UK, in 2012, which warned that a sea-level rise of about one to three metres will have catastrophic effects on human activities in Nigerian coastal environments, was largely ignored.
Despite these warnings, sand mining for construction works, which is largely responsible for shoreline erosion in Lagos, building of houses on lands reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean, and indiscriminate dumping of refuse into waterways, have continued unabated.
Apart from the climate change factor, experts have no doubt that abused nature will fight back.
For instance, they believe that the eight-kilometre-long wall made from concrete blocks to protect the former Bar Beach from rising waters is bound to put pressure on other coastal areas not protected by the wall.
This is confirmed by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, which says Lagos river banks, especially Victoria Island, are already being washed away by increasing water level. As one of the foremost Nigerian environmentalists put it, for Lagos to stay afloat, it must respond to the reality of climate change and pay close attention to construction and maintenance of better drainage systems, waste management facilities and housing structures.
The Federal Government must also go beyond mere rhetoric and get down to the serious business of addressing the nation’s environmental problems as other countries do.
So far, government’s interests in climate change issues appears to be limited to drawing attention to the need to rehabilitate the Lake Chad Basin.
We call for a collaboration between the Federal and Lagos State governments for drastic actions to save Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Lekki, Ajah and Apapa from disappearing from the map of Nigeria.