How to save Lagos from flood disasters, others
Days of pounding rains that left many homes, shopping facilities and roads in Lagos metropolis flooded have raised fresh concerns over master plans and dredging for new estates.
Thousands of Lagos residents spent the weekend struggling with rising floodwaters. Choice areas, including Ikoyi, Lekki Peninsula and Victoria Island, were the hardest hit, with many residents scooping water from their houses.
The affected residents were counting their losses at the weekend. Some of them relocated their property. No fatality has been reported despite the havoc wreaked by the flood, which was up to six feet high over the roads.
An estate surveyor and President, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) African region, Mr. Chudi Ubosi said some property might lose their tenants and the cost of house repair might be high. But he doubted if the situation would affect the value of the affected houses.
“Tenants may relocate to houses with less chances of flooding. But whilst many think that it may impact negatively on properties values, it is doubtful. The demand to be near to work locations is high and many tenants will still choose to live on the Island than make the shuttle across the mainland,” he said.
On the cause of the flooding, former President of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Remi Makinde linked it to non-adherence to the master plans of Lekki, Victoria and Ikoyi, saying the full implementation of the plans would provide a solution to all environmental problems in the area.
According to the environmental impact analyst and assessor, the master plans provide drainages, which have not been fully dredged probably because of the huge financial implications. He appealed to the Lagos State government to prioritise tackling flooding by making funds available.
The renowned planner compared the weekend flood to the 1991 incident when there was a 15-day continuous rain during the administration of Gen. Raji Rasaki, which led to the demolition of Maroko. Government, he said, should ensure that the drains, as stipulated in the master plans, are constructed.
According to him, even in the Eko Atlantic City project, there is a master plan as contained in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which is supposed to address all the environmental issues, including flooding. This may not have been constructed due to financial constraints, when it is done, it will provide a solution to the environmental problems on the island.
Makinde urged proper sensitisation of Lagos residents to the disposal of refuse in the drains so that they don’t block them.
Ubosi said the government needed to study the drainage system to know its shortcomings and must be ready to demolish property that may need to be done away with for better drainage.
He said: “The issue of multiple sand filling and creation of new estates needs to be put on hold until the government can undertake an environment impact analysis of these projects. Maintenance of the current drainage system must be undertaken with regular cleaning and desilting.”
For an environmentalist, Paddy Ezealla “tampering with environment without a strategy to respond to the consequences is unscientific.” He said the government should take another look at the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Eko Atlantic City.
“The ability of Victoria Island to handle both natural fresh water and ocean surge has been adversely compromised. It will be the highest environmental scandal in Nigeria, if a professional and sincere EIA was done on the project,” Ezealla said.
At a forum recently, Profs. David Aradeon, Margaret Okorodudu, Lanre Fabgbohun and Mr. Ako Amadi of Community Conservation and Development Initiatives (CCDI) were unanimous in declaring that the Eko Atlantic City project lacked transparency, participation and did not always adhere to the rule of law.
They said: “The approach taken so far by the Federal Government, Lagos State government and South Energyx leaves room for doubt. Current stock of offshore sand would be inadequate for such a project.
“Over the years, the offshore sand bed of the ocean in the Lagos area has not been replenished naturally. This is due to factors such as the sand drifts along the West African coast where amongst others, the port constructions at Lome and Cotonou have reduced the amount of sand deposited in the Lagos area. The sand and block digging for the projects need to be closely monitored by the appropriate government authorities,” a facts sheet released by the experts noted.
According to them, “The offshore dredging can increase the energy of the ocean waves which will be diverted to the eastern coast when hitting the new ‘Great Wall.’ ” The environmentalists raised these posers: “Have the tide and wave strength undergone a long term monitoring before the commencement of the project? On which data do the foreign experts simulations rely on?” They stressed the need for a provision that would hold the developers responsible for long-term negative impact caused by the project.
But in a reaction in a statement recently, the Managing Director of South Energyx Limited, developers of the Eko Atlantic city, Mr. David Frame, said that the sea wall was designed and tested to handle the worst storms in hundreds of years;
His words: “The Great Wall of Lagos will ensure that everyone living and working within the 10 square kilometres (6.2 miles) of reclaimed land for Eko Atlantic and the population of Victoria Island are protected from the sea.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare told The Guardian that the state had marked some buildings and fences on the drains, and advised the owners to either take away their fences or demolish them where necessary
Adejare, who was on-the- spot assessment of the flood on Saturday said it had subsided, adding that the state was looking forward to making amends where necessary, including ensuring the blocked drains are cleared.
To the commissioner, the issue of flooding is not peculiar to the state as it is a global phenomenon.