Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Friday insisted that the Climate Change rather than the Eko Atlantic City project was the cause of the recent ocean surge at the Kuramo Beach.
The Governor who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja when he had an interactive session with selected media executives made up of news editors, business editors and political editors explained that the surge which claimed some lives and properties was as a result of natural occurrences around the world like Hurricane, Typhoon and advised the people to be prepared for such occurrences along the coastline.
Fashola explained that the Eko Atlantic City Project is a reclamation of Lagos land that had been washed away over the years by the Beach, saying the area that is housing the project was the place used to be known as the Bar Beach.
He gave a detailed background of what used to happen in the area before the colonial government built the Apapa Port and said it was the obstruction of nature through the building of two Moles at the Apapa Port that made the sea wash away the entire community.
“If you build a mole, you have interrupted that natural flow and has resulted to a situation that the beach started taking away more sand than it was depositing. The Europeans built an automated mechanized system to regulate the sand deposit but when they left, we abandoned it and then the erosion continued without control”,
He said the sand replenishment exercise that is going on at Atlantic City now is a restoration of what used to be there before, adding that the State is not expanding but taking back what it has lost.
Governor Fashola said in the past when the media was always awash with different stories and headlines about how the ocean had overflowed its banks and reached places like the Nigerian Law School at Akin Adesolaand Nigerian Television Authority(NTA) at Ahmadu Bello Way with even the IMB Plaza overlooking the Bar Beach becoming empty of human activity.
He recalled that the solution embarked upon then by the government at the centre was to pump sand every two years which was costing the nation about three to four billion naira.
He said each time the sand was pumped, the sea just came and washed it away, stressing that what the present government has done is to build a defense wall in the sea after reclaiming what the sea too away.
The State Governor said the waves when the Kuramo incident happened was as high as 7metres and that the waves that hit Kuramo was possible because there was no protection for it.
He said some of the projects which the State Government has embarked upon in the last three years such as the clearing of the Itirin Canal has saved the state from greater calamity.
“I am happy that we had to remove a property that was blocking the Itirin Canal then and it even became an issue during the last governorship election campaigns because if it is the Itirin Canals that leads to Kuramo and down to the Five Cowries Creeks”.
“If you go to the Mobil house on the Lekki Epe Expressway, what that road has done for us is to improve our coastal drainage system. Before now, there was only one what the engineers refer to as box culvert at the Mobil House which links Itirin Canal into the Five Cowries Creek. We undertook a project to expand it to four. That expansion allowed free passage of water from the Atlantic to discharge into the lagoon”.
He said government is also carrying out expansion of about 11 roads including the Lekki Epe Expressway and believes that by the time it completes all of the projects, places like Silverbird in Lekki that used to flood will easily drain from the Atlantic Side because the lagoon is the final drainage.
“The Five Cowries Creek and the Lagos lagoon drain a substantial part of Lagos up to the Island and the Mainland up to Ikorodu. That is where all our water comes to in high tides. Then at the end of the raining season, the flood recedes”.
He explained that this accounts for why the government went to Makoko because it is a part of the lagoon that will also link Onike, Yaba, Bariga, Shomolu and Oworonshoki, adding that as attempts are made to continuously narrow the lake, its capacity to hold water diminishes.
The Lagos State Governor who also spoke about the on -going debate on State Police said there is no basis for the argument that the creation of State Police may be open to abuses because even in the biggest democracies of the world there are reported cases of abuses by Policemen on the citizens such as recently happened in the Minefield of Malema in South Africa.
He said if a referendum is organized in Nigeria today about what choice the people will make about facing abuse from a State created Police or loosing loved ones through insecurity, Nigerian would unanimously pitch their tent with the possibility of a Police that will abuse the citizen than been exposed to dangers and untimely deaths.
He also debunked claims that State Police would be used for electioneering purposes saying such claims have been gaining currency in Nigeria because no attempt has been made to properly organize elections thus still needing the presence of heavy Police men to monitor elections.
He said Nigeria operates a constitution that creates Federal and State Government, Federal and State Legislature, Federal and State Courts to adjudicate on the laws made by the different levels of parliament but sadly there is no State Police.
Governor Fashola who also spoke on the issue of a publication which ranked Lagos as one of the most difficult places to live said when the cities that Lagos State has been ranked alongside are considered, kudos must be given to the present administration in the State.
“We are too important in the comity of nations to be ignored. Our market, our size, our exposure cannot be wished away. We are bigger than several African countries because our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2010 was 80Billion Dollars”.
The Governor who said he had issues with the organizers of the rating because there seem to be no improvement in the ratings of Lagos State as time went by, asserted that he is very sure that the lot of every Lagosian has improved for the better in the past four years.
The event also featured presentations by members of the State Executive Council including the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaiye, Works and Infrastructure, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal and was anchored by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba.
Also present at the ceremony were the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria(A.C.N) Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other members of the Satte Executive Council including the Commissioners for Environment, Mr Tunji Bello, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Ben Akabueze, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Raji and Commerce and Industry, Mr Seye Oladejo.