Friday, 28 September 2012

EKO ATLANTIC Project is NOT for the Poor! - Tunji Bello



When asked whether there would be a low-cost housing estate in #Eko Atlantic City when completed, the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello retorted, "are there low-cost houses in New York City?...Is there anywhere in the world where the poor live beside the ocean view?"
This statement was made at a roundtable, SUSTAINABILITY OF COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS: THE UNCERTAINTIES AND RISKS OF INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN LAGOS held yesterday, Thursday, 27 September, 2012 at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event was organized by Heinrich Boll Foundation.
The auditorium was filled to capacity as officials of the Lagos State Government united with urban experts, local and international environmentalists, journalists, representatives of Lagos coastal communities recently affected by ocean surges, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to discuss the rationale, the potential impacts, the risk factors and the possibility as well as the capability to mitigate unavoidable consequences of the Eko Atlantic City project.  An issue that dominated the discussions was whether the Eko Atlantic project complies with Nigeria's federal legislation, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, 1992 which prohibits the execution of private or public infrastructural projects without prior consideration of the environmental impacts. Another topic that featured prominently in the deliberations is the recent demolition of Makoko community, which further raises a third question of whether the poor have a right to live in the city.
Is the Eko Atlantic City Project EIA Act, 1992 compliant? This is the trillion dollar question! There doesn't seem to be an unequivocal answer to this question. All indications point to the fact that the answer is NO!!!

1n 2008, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed a law to provide for regulation of waterfront infrastructure, sand dealing and dredging operations in the state: The Lagos State Waterfront Infrastructure Development Law, 2009 (LAWID). LAWID empowers the Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development to grant permit for sand dredging or dealing within, around and on waterfronts and embankments. It is likely that Lagos State passed the LAWID Law to facilitate commencement of the Eko Atlantic City Project and other coastline alteration projects in lieu of EIA certification from the Federal Ministry of Environment. 

Following a barrage of questions, angry outbursts, and hot exchanges among development experts and participants who are deeply concerned about the worsening flooding and climatic conditions in the condition, stakeholders advised the Lagos State government not to see the growing objections as an affront to the project. Many still believed that the Eko Atlantic City Project is “a fantastic idea’… Nevertheless, the wide range of extant social issues and environmental concerns must be addressed.  The proponents must be brought back to conform and comply with due process of law and executive /administrative processes.
To view the important highlights of the discussions, please follow @spaces4change or use the hashtag: #EkoAtlantic to view the full discussions.



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