As rains beckon with associated effects of flooding, erosion and sea level rise on cities and residents, Lagos authority said that measures are already in place to mitigate climate change-induced environmental challenges
From Sokoto to Lagos, Maiduguri to Port Harcourt, Nigeria is confronted with various environmental challenges induced mainly by climate change and global warming.
Some of the challenges include flooding, erosion, desertification, deforestation, excessive heat, ocean surge and sea level rise among others. While the Federal government is enjoining states on tree planting campaign and others initiatives, state authorities too have come up with different measures to tackle the challenges as they affect them.
However, it is no longer news that torrential rainfall with sporadic and increasing intensity associated with climate change, settlement in flood prone areas, blockage of drains and river channels, low elevation and the associated poor hydraulic conductivity of the drainage channels, and poor upstream reservoir regulation on Ogun river are major causes of flooding in Lagos State.
What is news are the proactive steps being explored by the state government in tackling or reducing effects of flooding and other environmental challenges on residents, property and businesses.
About 28 states out of 36 are also affected by flooding annually in Nigeria. Abreast with the history of environmental challenges of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu, said he was not living any stone unturned by exploring effective urban planning, developmental control, drainage designs, dredging, construction of drainage channels and environmental education to mitigate all climate change -induced problems confronting the state.
In preparation for the likely consequences of 240 to 270 days of rains in 2020 as predicted for Lagos by Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), he said his administration has embarked on extensive dredging of water channel projects across the state. He added that there were also massive de-silting of drains, clearing of culverts with identification of black spots as the state prepares fully for rains.
According to his Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources in Lagos, Dr Tunji Bello, critical channels have been worked on, 83 secondary drains maintained by the Emergency Flood Abatement Gang (EFAG), while 40 primary channels have been approved and awarded out of which 34 channels already executed.
While urging residents of Lagos State to prepare for likely consequences, Bello assured that government would continue to reap the gains of planning, as the flood control measures in the state had been stepped up to contain any unforeseen weather condition.
The commissioner added that relevant measures had been put in place in preparation for the 2020 rainy season. Bello said the state was determined to maintain and sustain the long-established synergy and partnership with Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority.
He said the partnership had ensured control and monitoring of steady and systematic release of water from Oyan Dam to prevent flooding of the release of the downstream communities.
However, many residents and conservationists have expressed worries over massive dredging and sand filling in the state, linking it to incessant flooding and ocean surge in Lagos Uncontrolled dredging and sandfilling activities, Project Manager, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Mr. Adedamola Ogunsesan, said would worsen flood’s problem in Lagos metropolis since displaced water must go elsewhere.He also bemoaned government’s tendencies of abandoning EIAs when such projects are being carried out.
If the project must be done at all, he advised that it should be carried out in a sustainable manner, and that government must be transparent about reclamation, dredging and sandfilling processespecially.
In the area of waste management, Senior Special Assistant to Governor on Media, Mr. Babatunde Alao, said that Sanwo-Olu administration has repositioned the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) for an effective and resourceful waste management programme towards elimination of refuse in the state.
With the support of the Public Sector Participation operators, he stated that LAWMA has succeeded in cleaning wastes indiscriminately dumped in different parts of the state. Sanwo-Olu said his administration has acquired 10 new boats to boost marine waste collection in collaboration with the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance.
This initiative, he said resulted in preservation of acquatic flora and fauna in the state in line with government’s policy direction on constant clean-up of waterways to enhance a cleaner and aesthetic environment. On beautification and development of parks and gardens, Sanwo-Olu maintained that they have been improved upon, adding that Oregun park and others across the state were being designed to promote relaxation, recreation and picnic.
According to the governor, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) has also engaged various stakeholders on dangers of environmental pollution especially noise pollution.
“There is also waterfront clean-up to reduce pollution in lagoons, including sanitation and disinfection of public places as part of efforts at curbing the spread of COVID-19,” the governor said.
He added that LAWMA also introduced the construction, demolition and Disaster Waste Management inititive to prevent, minimise, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose waste, adding that the Blue Box initiative that was introduced to the system to encourage separation of recyclables materials from the general waste.
He disclosed that five community recycling centres have been activated in five local council development areas with recyclers strategically positioned to help drive the process.
Government must revive its waste to wealth programme to create business opportunities for people.