Professionals Seek Comprehensive, Honest EIA Before Reclamation

Professionals in the built environment, have supported, with a condition, governments and private developers backing on land reclamation exercise to cater for their growing urban centres.

Land reclamation can take various forms. It could be reclamation from the desert, as can be seen in Libya, Dubai, Israel and several other places or reclamation from the sea as is common in most parts of Lagos State such as Iwaya, Oworonsoki, Lekki, Ajah, Ilubirin, Ahmadu Bello Way (Eko Atlantic) and other riverine areas within the country.

All human developments take place on land. Ironically, while the developments increase by the day, land is static. Nigeria, for instance, with a landmass of 923,768 km² before 1960, was said to have a population of 45.1million. When the 2006 census was conducted, the population figure was put at 180million. The increase in population did not in any way affect the land mass. It still remained the same 923,768 km².

In whatever way it is looked at, the added population would have to be accommodated and housed. And this, takes place on no other place, than on land. Hence, the mass support that land reclamation enjoys.

Land reclamation, in whatever way it is done, alters the course of nature and according to experts, could have dire consequences if not done the right professional way, hence adequate care need be taken before embarking on it.

It would be recalled that last year, in one of DAILY INDEPENDENT reports, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Lekki Peninsula, Ikoyi and Victoria Island, stated during a conference, that part of the reason why the area was eroded by flood, according to private study they carried out, was because of the indiscriminate sand filling of natural water course in the ocean and lagoons by both the government and private individuals.

In addition, they stated that the inability of estate developers to produce a comprehensive Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) before embarking on any construction project within the area has also contributed to the flooding in the area.

While acknowledging that carrying out a comprehensive EIA is very key to reclamation, Bunmi Ajayi, former president, Nigeria Institute of Town Planners (NITP) disclosed to DAILY INDEPENDENT that it was not the sand filling that caused the flooding on the Island last year, but a systemic failure.

According to the Ajayi, government is supposed to establish a height for them, whereby, before any sand filling exercise can be undertaken by anybody, be it government or private individual, you ought to have done the right things.

Unfortunately, he said, because there was no such thing, private individuals, in order to save money, just go a metre above sea level, making most of the area not to be able to discharge water into the sea

He disclosed that if the sea is naturally higher than the land, the water will have no place to go to than to splash itself around people’s premises.

“That is why I say it is a real systemic failure. The state government should establish a level for the whole of Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Bar beach. It is the responsibility of government to guide people as to the minimum height that people should go when they sand fill in other to be able to discharge into the sea.

“If you are sand filling in one part, and your sand filling is creating erosion in another part, then you are really not making progress. But if you get a proper EIA, it will guide you to be able to mitigate some of these adverse consequences.

“Where there is scarcity, then you have to reclaim, but in doing it, you must do a scientific, honest and truthful EIA because for anybody who is going to write EIA on such issues, they must understand the way the winds operate, the way the currents operate, movement of the sea water and sea level. So, it is supposed to be a hell of disciplines involved.”

Emmanuel Afolayan, immediate past president, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), on his part stated that the alarming growth of the global population has made land reclamation inevitable.

Way back at Ikeja GRA, he remarked that it was common to sight then to see a four bedroom bungalow with a large expanse of land occupied by only one family. Today, he noted, such kind of settlements have given way to many floor apartments that accommodates more people within the same land space.

These and other forms of land reclamation exercises, according to the Developer, are the only way people in various countries would be able to manage their population effectively.

“But how do you reclaim the land itself.  It must be done properly so that it will not have a negative effect. Reclamation anywhere in the world is normal.  If reclamation was not done, we would not even have had the Third Mainland Bridge, if we don’t do it, infrastructural development would never take place. Each time you do it, there must always be provision for free flow of water.

“Two, when you do it, the kind of foundation you lay in VGC, Lekki and the likes is not the kind of foundation you do at Ikeja GRA. Where people carry out raft foundation in a particular place, they do conventional foundation in others. When the design says that your foundation should get to a particular level, it is because of flooding.”

Afolayan advised that wherever land reclamation is done, people should ensure that the canals are properly maintained so that nothing would hinder the water flow because, by the reclamation exercise, the water passage has been narrowed.

Moses Ogunleye, convener of the Lagos Housing Fair and former Lagos State chapter chairman, NITP, indicated that reclamation is done everywhere; that there would not be any negative problem if it is done scientifically.

Enough study, he admonished, should be carried out, while mitigation measures and environmental management plans, should also be adhered to.

Investigation also reveals that there are a lot of oceanographic data available which discloses the tidal impact as well as the rise in sea level. Hence, private developers are advised to avail themselves the privilege of accessing those data prior to 

 

Source: Daily Independent

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