Floods: Coalition urges stoppage of dredging, revisit of EIA
The Concerned Citizens of Lekki Peninsula, Ikoyi and Victoria Island – a coalition of estates in the Lekki-Epe axis – have called on the Lagos State government to ensure the immediate removal of all obstructions to the natural watercourse in the area and uphold the sanctity of the Lekki Regional Masterplan.
The request is coming in the wake of the recent flooding that affected most parts of Lagos Island.
The coalition blamed the flooding on what it called “the indiscriminate sandfilling of natural water courses, oceans and lagoons in the area and the inability of the government to implement the Lekki drainage regional master plan.”
Addressing reporters on Victoria Island, the chairman of the coalition, Mr. Olusegun Ladega, identified factors responsible for the flooding to be three folds. Firstly, he blamed the distortion in the Lekki drainage regional masterplan caused by the indiscriminate sand filling of natural waterways, and the illegal construction of structures on drainages and canals that obstruct the flow of water so flood water has nowhere to go.
Secondly, Ladega noted that the inability of the critical ministries in the state – Environment, Waterfront, Land and Physical Planning – to work in synergy has resulted in infringement and breach of environmental laws by the ministries, leading to a poor and weak enforcement of the laws, building regulations and town planning guidelines. He listed the third cause of the flood as the sand- filling of lagoons and oceans causing coastal erosion and forcing water back to land, and the inability of estate developers to produce Environmental Impact Analysis reports.
Ladega urged the Lagos State government to resolve these issues, saying that the flooding was not principally the effect of indiscriminate dumping of refuse and climate change, which government blamed.
Therefore, the coalition further said, having identified these reasons as the remote causes of the flooding, there was a need to change the narrative from the narrow political one being peddled by the government of residents clogging canals with refuse and climate change.
The coalition argued that as the area that pays the highest amount on its properties to the government, it deserves to be given a certain level of consideration especially as concerns infrastructure.
They called on government to, as a matter of urgency, put in place measure that will abate the menace caused by flooding in the area. One of these demands is the immediate stoppage of all sand filling activities across the state until the Environmental Impact Assessments reports are made available and subjected to independent scientific review. Besides, they urged the state government to enforce the original drainage master plan, and all distortions on the drainage master plan be reversed; all construction hindering flow of water be removed immediately and there should be a restoration of all developments to comply with the Lagos State environmental laws.
Ladejo noted that the flooding of the July 8 and 22, has exposed the lack of a response plan/structure to deal with an emergency of this scale. Therefore, the body says an emergency plan should be put in place that will address the persistent flooding and attend to residents affected by the menace.
Other measures the coalition suggested include adequate measures to inform the public of the emergency plan that will inform the public of the dangers; a plan for the rescue of anyone affected, relocation of those whose properties are affected in case of another flood. Also, the government should put in place a mechanism for the maintenance of drainage structures, and maximise capacity of drainages as both reservoirs and transport medium for waste waters.
“This is common sense, but it is not done. Drainages are filled up with silt up to about 75 per cent of their capacity. There is the need to repair and reconstruct existing drainages because most of them have lost their capacity due to structural damages,” Ladega said. The coalition also charged the state government to continue with the use of filter strips in form of permeable paving (main roads and development driveways), which needs to be reinforced as concrete roads are not desirable in these areas. He said there is a need to limit flow of waste water into public drains by improving on waste water management systems in large estates; improved septic tank design/construction in private residence. Ladega explained that there is the need to also maximise river course capacity. For instance, he revealed that the Lagos Lagoon has not been dredged in ages, hence, the need for a deliberate sweep of the river bed to improve water flow and retention.
“Furthermore, the Lagos State Government needs to develop deliberate policy to protect the Peninsula to influence development and construct mechanical flood defences. This will range from ordinary levees with sand bags to concrete/shell shore protection and embankment,” he explained.
Importantly, the coalition called on government to construct artificial ponds or lakes to act as additional reservoir / retention for floodwater and caissons. It added that there is also a need to construct elevated road with gentle slope embankment, as this will preserve the integrity of road for the purpose of evacuation during flooding emergency and at the same time increase capacity of drains.
The coalition also tasked government to appoint a watch dog committee from the private sector and civil society that will monitor, and ensure the environmental laws are properly carried out all through the year.
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