Erosion At Alpha Beach, A Disaster Looming


 Prince Adesegun Oniru is the Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development. In this interview with Alausa Rhythms, he speaks of the looming disaster at the Alpha Beach, Lekki, as a result of erosion and other issues.


 How did you feel being appointed commissioner for the second time?

The work of Lagos State will not be completed by one particular government. There are so many challenges. The work we are doing today is just laying foundation for what is to come in the future. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to come back to continue with my work.

Last time, you said if nothing is done about the erosion at the Alpha Beach, the whole place will be washed away. Do you still stand by that statement?

Yes, I stand by my statement, between three and six months, if nothing is done about the beach, the entire area will disappear. The only solution to the Alpha Beach problem is the permanent one like we did with the Bar Beach whereby rocks were used to combat the ocean surge. This is the only solution to that problem. Governor Babatunde Fashola had written to Mr. President who paid a visit to the area and was shocked to see the devastation by the erosion. He has promised to help. Now, we are asking Mr. President and the Federal Government to deliver that help to us because of the magnitude of the erosion. It was recorded that about a week to two, about 20 meters of coastline was lost to the ocean. This is not Lagos State problem but the Federal Government problem. What nature is now doing with the Atlantic is redefining the boundary of Nigeria.

You also raised concern about shipwrecks at Lekki Beach, what is the situation of things now?

Concerning the shipwreck, we don’t call them shipwreck, we described them as beach vessels, constituting obsacles which when the ocean water is trying to find its way around, it carves sand from the beach, thereby causing erosion in the place.

To solve the problem at Alpha Beach, can you quantify it in monetary terms?

The Federal Government knows what we requested for. I cannot tell the cost now but at the Bar Beach, we did a kilometre and half within the Bar Beach for about N6.5 billion.

The extent of erosion problem at Alpha Beach is what will determine the cost of the project. The length of the area is between 3-5 kilometres.

People blamed the Sunday, 10 July flood on the fact that the Eko Atlantic Project did not have the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA; what is your reaction to this?

I will like to take you back few years. Everything that happened at the Bar Beach is not new but just reclaiming land that the state has lost to the ocean.

And with regards to the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, it is not true that we did not get it. EIA on a project like that is not a one time thing. Environmental Impact Assessment is an ongoing thing; we do have an EIA for that. Let me put your mind at rest that what happened on 10 July was not caused by Eko Atlantic City. How can I say that? I can say that because we have never had 16 hours of that intensity of rain. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Eko Atlantic City. Now, if there were scientific proof I will like to see it but let me assure you that it is not, why will the work in Victoria Island lead to flood in Agege and other areas of the state?

Apart from the Eko Atlantic City, are there other projects you are doing?

Eko Atlantic City is not the only reclamation project we are doing; there are one or two others. One has started and there is a new master plan for Eti-Osa, Ikeja and one near completion in Ikorodu and part of the Eti-Osa master plan has recommended that we reclaim certain areas and turn them into housing estates. Dredging in Lagos is very shallow; so dredging and reclamation work have been recommended in that area. There is another project going on by Gravitas and they are reclaiming 180 hectares of land as recommended in the new master plan for that area.

How are you monitoring the activities of sand dredgers?

I believe that we have officers from the ministry backed up by law to monitor activities along our waterfront and waterways. Around 92 companies applied for dredging permit on our waterways last year; today, we have issued 19 to 22 permits because some of the people that got the permits are not working with them and it is an annual permit issued to them. Immediately the year ends, everybody has to come back for reassessment before the permit is renewed. We go out on a regular basis and we have a law backing us up and anybody caught in illegal activities will be dealt with by that law.

Which Federal Government agency is responsible for handling issues pertaining to shipwreck?

NIMASA and NPA are different but the two agencies work hand and whenever there is an abandoned vessel on our coastline, the first point of call is NIMASA. We keep calling them but nothing has changed. Yesterday, an abandoned vessel ended up at Lafiaji, few kilometres from Alpha Beach. Our procedure is that we give the owner of the vessel seven to 14 days to remove it and if he doesn’t, the state will take action to remove it.

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