In apparent move to suggest the need to learn geology the day after an earthquake, the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has said that his administration would enforce the physical planning laws as they relate to illegal structures on drainage as well as wage war against indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
Speaking at the Water Technology and Environmental Control Conference held in Ikeja, Ambode described the flood that ravaged most parts of the state for over eight days as a “challenge” to his administration.
“For the past few days, the state and, indeed, most parts of Nigeria, have witnessed torrential rainfall which is quite unprecedented.
“We have witnessed our most prime estates flooded with water; we have seen our roads taken over by floods, and we have painfully watched how many homesteads have literally become pools.
“These, indeed, are trying times for any government, especially our own administration, which has determinedly pursued massive infrastructural development, to improve standards of living of our citizenry,” he said.
The governor added that the government would be stronger in enforcing physical planning laws, especially those building illegally on canals and blocking the free-flow of water across the state.
The governor also said there was even more urgent need to embark upon a review and re-engineering of the canals and drainage systems in the state.
“This must be pursued hand-in-hand with a clear and crystal re-envisioning of our water management system. So, in effect, what we should immediately pursue is a holistic solution to what is certain to be a recurring problem. It must be a sincere collaboration between government and the citizenry.”
Ambode said access to and management of water resources, as well as environmental control, would remain one of the greatest challenges facing most parts of the developing world.
On measures to contain flooding in the state, the commissioner for the environment, Dr. Babatunde Samuel Adejare, said a retention pond was being built in Sangotedo area of the state to serve as a reservoir for storm water for onward release into the Okota River after the rains subside.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FoEN) blamed the “environmentally-unfriendly projects” by the state government along Lagos coastlines, especially the Lekki-Ajah axis for massive floods that submerged houses in several parts of the state during the rains.
The floods ravaged parts of Victoria Island, Lekki, Ikoyi, Ajah, Oniru and adjoining areas, where a large number of houses were submerged and residents trapped in their homes by rising flood water.
ERA/FoEN’s deputy executive director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said in a statement that rains had exposed how dangerous experiments like the Eko Atlantic City project and unmitigated sand dredging along the Lekki and Ajah corridor for the ultimate pleasure of the wealthy could make life miserable for the residents.
“We have said it time and again that environmental sustainability goes beyond showmanship and sweet pronouncements.”
Oluwafemi said the reclamation exercise in Lagos was now threatening to throw into chaos the entire southwest coastline extending down to the Niger Delta.
“The explanation of the state government conveyed by Environment Commissioner was very watery as it deliberately avoided the subject matter but instead blamed the flooding on near insignificant pieces of rubbish floating around narrow drains.
“For us, this is an indictment on the government because it is the same government and its agents that grant all sorts of permits for sand dredging and other projects that put pressure on the Atlantic and put residents of Lagos in harm’s way,” he said.
He said the level of flood this year was deeper than of previous years because not only were homes flooded, people were terrorised by dangerous reptiles that came with the Atlantic waters that met with the rains waters and had nowhere to go.
“We are using this sad occasion to reiterate our demands that the Lagos State government put a brake on massive excavations and soil reclamation exercises that have displaced locals while creating an earthly paradise for the wealthy,” he said.
“We also ask this government to make public the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the controversy-streaked Eko Atlantic City Project and others that defy logic at a time that climate change is inducing sea level rise globally. Anything short of a retreat from these dangerous activities will spell doom for all of us,” he added.