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Negligent dredging cause flooding in Lekki

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By Mercy Kelani

Scientists have raised concerns about the increasing erosion problem in Lagos.

Over the last six months, there has been a notable increase in demolition projects taking place in the affluent Lekki neighbourhood and surrounding areas. The reason for the sudden increase in focus is due to the excessive building being done by property developers and landowners near waterways and main drainage systems, making the area extremely prone to flooding. The Ministry and the people are currently directing their attention towards finding the cause of flooding internally. Unfortunately, they are neglecting the looming danger of coastal erosion along the Lagos shoreline.

Also, this issue has been worsened by the higher levels of dredging and sand filling activities happening at the Bar Beach end. If this continues, there is a risk of flooding reaching all the way to, and even surpassing, the Lekki-Epe Expressway. Scientists are raising concerns about the increasing erosion problem that is happening in Lagos. They are highlighting the negative impacts of careless dredging practices and cautioning about the severe damage it could cause to the environment and the people living in coastal areas.

Numerous pleas have been made to address the issue.

An insightful documentary directed by Laila Johnson-Salami was broadcast on Arise TV, shedding light on the devastating impact of erosion in Lagos communities. Desmond Majekodunmi, the visionary behind LUFASI National Park, emphasized the urgent need for government intervention regarding the neglectful dredging practices in areas like Okun Alfa. Numerous pleas have been made to address the issue, as homes and belongings continue to be swept away due to erosion. His message was clear: they received ample warnings to address the issue in a timely manner but chose to ignore them.

However, there is still time to take action by the government. The emergence of businesses such as Landmark Africa and Oniru Beach in the early 2000s sparked a thriving ‘beach economy’ along the coastline. This economic boom has led to significant property investments from businesses like Wave, Oniru, Sol, and Good Beaches, creating job opportunities for thousands and playing a crucial role in Nigeria’s economic growth. However, the future of these businesses is now uncertain as they face potential financial losses.

This issue goes beyond economic implications.

Dredging and sand filling activities have resulted in a situation where legal intervention is necessary to resolve disputes between property owners and Gilbert and Ronald Chagoury, the owners of Eko Atlantic. This issue goes beyond economic implications and now requires the judiciary to step in and mediate. Olumide Aju SAN is representing Mondinvest Limited in a lawsuit against the Eko Atlantic promoters. The suit aims to hold the promoters accountable for negligent dredging that caused damage and devaluation to properties.

Mondinvest Limited is also seeking restoration of the Kuramo Waters back to its original state, all under the supervision of the court. By rigorously interrogating expert witnesses, the plaintiff has exposed the extensive damage resulting from careless dredging techniques. The potential consequences of the court ruling are vast, with significant financial investments and the livelihoods of over 200 businesses hanging in the balance. The final judgment on this lawsuit is scheduled for May 30, 2024, by the court. It is crucial for all stakeholders, including government bodies like the Federal and State Ministry of Environment, to reconsider the dredging activities and their effects on communities.

Lag must take action to prevent the negative impacts of unchecked dredging.

Additionally, a thorough assessment of the Environmental Impact Assessment performed by Eko Atlantic in 2003 should be conducted. Residents and business owners are still wondering about the potential effects that were predicted in the EIA report two decades ago. They are curious to know how these predictions compare to the current situation along the Lagos Coastline. The city of Lagos must take immediate action to prevent the negative impacts of unchecked dredging along its coast, including economic loss, environmental damage, and rising unemployment rates. It is crucial for the city to address this issue promptly.

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