Lagos, according to a recent report, has again been threatened by severe flooding with the alarm that violent tidal waves are on the increase across the coastal areas. Lekki, Alpha, Elegushi beaches and their environs, among others, have already been declared danger zones for residents and fun seekers alike. The latest surge experienced about a fortnight ago encroached at least 800 metres inland around the Jakande Estate in Lekki. It was unannounced; a development considered a confirmation of public apprehension on the poor capacity of the authorities to manage early warning signals.
Residents near the endangered areas were, however, warned to vacate their homes to avert a recurrence of the kind of ocean surge disaster that claimed 15 lives last year. We recall that tidal waves ravaged the Kuramo Beach and swept away fun seekers, fishermen and many occupants of illegal shanties at the beach front. The natural disaster led to the loss of property worth millions of naira and several properties put at risk. The most recent surge did not result in the loss of lives. But this cannot pass for an excuse for inefficient government response.
The phenomenon of ocean surge is a global problem, but the solution lies in the capacity of the government, both federal and state, to take immediate and far reaching actions to mitigate the impact. India, China, Pakistan and the United States, among others, have at one time or the other been affected by natural disasters. Most developed countries have demonstrated the capacity to handle the crises that arise from ocean surge. The effects of the Hurricane Katrina that struck the United States in August 2005 were catastrophic on the populace and the environment, for instance, but the local, state and national governments promptly intervened to save lives and property. No doubt, developed countries have more scientific and state-of-the-art technology and facilities to predict the possibility of ocean surge and related natural disasters. They also have competent and dedicated agencies that are well funded to monitor, predict, evacuate and provide remedial measures for victims in times of emergency.
Unfortunately, the same can scarcely be said to be the case in Nigeria. The recurring experience has remained panic-stricken and make-shift attempts to secure the coastlines. The duplication of agencies at the state and federal levels has led to the politicization of measures to check ocean surge in the country. There has been a running face off between the Lagos State government and the Federal Government on the management of the coast lines, for example. Added to this is the chronic non-availability of the required technology and equipment to effectively manage the setback. The government at state and federal levels should depoliticize issues bordering on the ocean. Cooperative federalism that will assist national growth and development is what the country needs at this time. Indeed, Lagos authorities and the FG should harmonize technical plans to reclaim the coast lines.
It has been argued that the Lagos Megacity project and accompanying land reclamation in the Lekki axis contribute to the increasing threats of ocean surge in Lekki and Victoria Island. The Lagos State government has shown exceptional commitment to implementing its mega city project, which involves land reclamation for the Eko Atlantic City project and the Export Processing Zone. The land reclamation has been cited as a pre-disposing factor to the ocean surge in the Lekki axis.
It is therefore, imperative that the state government builds adequate barriers to forestall ocean surge in the affected areas. The persistence of the surge creates the impression that the state has been tackling the menace with palliative measures. The relevant agencies, such as the Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, Lagos State Emergency Relief Agency, National Environmental Protection Agency, et cetera, should be better equipped with human and material resources to enable them predict with accuracy and handle ocean surge whenever it occurs.
The most recent rivalry between the Lagos emergency relief agency and its national counterpart is uncalled for and should not be allowed to repeat itself. Lagos State authorities should ensure that residents of all identified danger zone comply with its warning that they vacate the areas; they should also clear the coastline of illegal residences, especially in Ilasan, Badore, Lamgbasa, et cetera, to save lives and property.
Source: National Mirror Newspaper
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