Construction activities, such as roads and bridges, and climate change, have been identified as the primary contributors to the increasing erosion losses on the Niger-Delta island, where Nigeria’s Lagos is located.
Also contributing to the erosion losses is human settlement, which has been repeatedly identified as the key factor that has led to hundreds of thousands of ecological losses.
The findings of the study were made public yesterday at the launch of the 50th anniversary edition of the Lagos Erosion Eradication Programme (LEEP).
The director-general of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Mr. Peter Okebukola, listed the construction of bridges, roads and other infrastructure along the banks of the Niger-Delta, as well as the change in the overall rainfall pattern, as some of the factors contributing to the problem of erosion that has taken over half a million hectares of land as forlorn as Canaries Island on Lagos Island.
He said the LEEP is developing a robust management framework that would be a tool to help the government attain the objectives of the Lagos Master Plan 2030 to reduce degradation and drought-related resource conflicts by building sustainable environmental infrastructure and optimising water supply with its attendant impact on land degradation.
“LASEPA has so far managed to protect about 35,000 hectares of land, with no loss of life.
“LASEPA has been able to stabilise and manage the adverse effects of these activities; also, the effect of these activities has been largely managed and controlled.
“Some of the hazards include landslide and landslides; bio-waste; rock and soil erosions; collapsed rockfaces; flooding; loss of settlements; sedimentation of creeks and rivers; and human settlement.
“Some of the activities such as erosion control and erosion abatement have been largely managed and controlled by LASEPA, under a comprehensive emergency response and humanitarian management structure.
“Despite these efforts, the issue of erosion persists, and the adverse consequences of erosion remain widespread.
“Despite the minimisation of the lost land from the total of about 12 million hectares, the total value of lost land now exceeds N200 billion, with damages and ecological resources losses estimated at a conservative estimate of over N500 billion.
“In addition, the coverage and extent of the destruction can be measured in terms of kilometres in Lagos, is estimated in kilometres and cubic meters, and covers several periods from Koyi rainlge in the east to Bakura in the west, (in addition to the other islands of the Niger-Delta),” he said.
While sympathising with the people of the waterway, which has also been described as the third border between Nigeria and Cameroon, Okebukola noted that: “From the time of Great Depression of America from 1929-1933 and during the Second World War, erosion (by land-use) was the major factor that helped to create the dynamic depression.
“Even in times of progress, it has continued to be a major determinant of economic advancement or retardation. In fact, erosion is one of the factors that lead to global poverty.
“On the Lagos Island, if you look at some of the erosion lines, the economic value of the land is over N3.5 billion and again, if you add other areas that have been affected by the erosion, you will see that it is now about N8 billion a year.”
The permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment, Mr. Olabisi Aliu, pledged the commitment of the state government to offset the infrastructural, economic and social losses suffered by communities in the area.
He also thanked the lNigeria-Cameroon Emergency Relief Organisation, IREC and the United Nations for their support in tackling the menace of erosion that had negatively affected human settlements and farms on various parts of the island.
Also, a statement from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has agreed to collaborate with the Lagos State Government in the retrieval of property, land, conservation and delivery of ecological services in the coastal belt.
The statement also said that the Attorney-General of the Federation has directed the Attorney-General of Lagos State to liaise with the team from the IREC and the United Nations to immediately help pull together both a synergy of security to protect properties, agriculture, land and social services.