Sources in NIMASA disclosed to MMS Plus how the EKo Atlantic Towers, developed for the Lagos State Government by the Balmoral Group under Eko Atlantic City project were built on a ship wreck in the parts of the reclaimed portion of the Lagos Bar Beach land in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The sources who told MMS Plus that NIMASA had alerted the Federal Ministry of Environment on the absence of the statutory Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) report and the approval for the dredging activities, also noted that the agency had called the attention of the Eko Atlantic City authorities to the effect that there was a ship wreck that needed evacuation before the reclamation and sand filing of the given area of the Atlantic Ocean but they ignored the agency’s report.
Eko Atlantic City in Nigeria is a new city built on Lagos Bar Beach –on land that is reclaimed from sea. It is designed for 250,000 residents and 150,000 commuters, and will eventually feature facilities for modern comfort.
It is constructed in six phases that will ultimately result in the creation of 9km2 prime land, requiring a reclamation and sand winning of no less than 100 million M3 on an area of 2×7 km.
Recall that a group known as Legal Defence and Assistance Project(LEDAP) had had gone to the Federal Court in Lagos asking for an end to the ongoing Eko Atlantic City project and dredging of the Atlantic Ocean.
LEDAP had stated that the defendants did not conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, as required by law, before embarking on the project.
However, LEDAP said there was no plan to ensure that the dredging of the ocean will not overflow the coastal environment and the rural communities along the banks of the ocean.
The group also said the Federal Ministry of Environment, joined as a defendant in the case, did not authorise the project because it had not issued the statutory Environmental Impact Statement approving the dredging and building construction as required by the Environmental Impact Assessment Act 1992.
The plaintiff prayed the court to declare that it is unlawful for the Atlantic City Project to be undertaken without an approved environmental impact assessment as required by the Environmental Impact Assessment Act 1992.
“To continue with the project will be detrimental to the environmental safety of communities along the coastal banks of the Atlantic Ocean,” LEDAP stated in a court deposition.
The plaintiff is asking the court to issue an injunction restraining the defendants from continuing with the project until properly approved environmental impact assessment is conducted, through consultation with the coastal communities as required by law.
LEDAP wanted the court to order Lagos State government and the South Energy Limited to adequately resettle all the communities on the coastal banks that are already affected or likely to be affected by the dredging.
According to the plaintiff, the court should stop the project because of its destructive impact on the aquatic life in the entire Nigerian territorial waters and the environment of the coastal communities including Victoria Island, Lekki Peninsula and several fishing settlements on the west coast of the ocean.
The Eko Atlantic City, largely owned by a consortium of foreign companies, involves deep dredging of the Atlantic Ocean and construction of high-rise commercial and residential buildings on the recovered shores of Bar Beach, Kuramo beach and Victoria Island Lagos.
LEDAP said under the Act, any person undertaking such a project is required to undertake detailed field assessment of its negative impact of on the environment, and in consultation with the affected communities, develop plans on how to ameliorate and solve the environmental problems.
“The dredging of the ocean and construction of buildings on the reclaimed land under the Eko Atlantic City will not only flood the coastal areas in coming years, but will destroy aquatic life in the entire Nigerian territorial waters of the ocean including fishes and animals, thereby negatively affecting the rich ecosystem of the ocean, the Lagoon and adjourning rivers, swamps and wetland of the country,” the group said.
“Most of the rural fishing communities who depend on the ocean and surrounding waters for livelihood will be utterly displaced and impoverished.”
The suit was filed following series of unsuccessful requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 by LEDAP on Lagos State Government and South Energy Limited, the lead owner of the Eko Atlantic City, for details of environmental impact assessment conducted before embarking on the project.
In a related development, NIMASA has also said that the Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited failed to secure approval for a recently concluded dredging activities at the refinery site. The source in NIMASA acknowledged however that the promoters of the project had published the Project’s EIA in the media but it did not get approval for the dredging of the site, saying that the oversight has had serious environmental effect on the shoreline communities.
Lamenting that that was a breach that could warrant the immediate stoppage of work on the site, the source stated that the monitoring and enforcement arm of NIMASA has swung into action and would not spare any oversight bordering on regulation and compliance.
While efforts were made to get both the officials of Dangote Group and Eko Atlantic City project to speak on these allegations without luck, a source close to Dangote Group provided information to the effect that dredging of the site had taken place.
“We dredged sand from the Atlantic Ocean, about 60 million cubic metres. The world’s biggest dredgers dredged the sand for about 18 months. It’s a big job and (was) completed successfully . Now, what is left is to erect equipment.”
Speaking recently with MMS Plus, the Chairman of Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (PCC) Otunba Kunle Folarin said that the exercise often comes with some adverse effects even as he urged government to take cognizance of the environmental effects of dredging which had led to the end of several shoreline businesses and communities across the nation.
While admonishing the government to take a critical look at the consequence of several environmental issues ranging from ballast water control in the marine environment, to gas emission, field emission and other toxic wastes, Otunba Folarin decried the docility of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) about ballast water and the toxic waste, noting that there is a department to cater for the marine environment at the agency.
He said “The Nigerian government should understand that issues like dredging costs the nation in terms of the environment. What is the shoreline protection policy of the government to protect the livelihood and existence of people in such areas? Most of the villages around the locations that have been dredged seize to exist. Where are the environmental policies? There should be a scorecard on marine environment”.