‘the project lacks transparency, participation and doesn’t always adhere to the rule of law’
As Eko Atlantic City is being built, this series will question Eko Atlantic City’s environmental, economical and social impact on Lagos State. Part II discusses how the city going up will environmentally affect the already established lagos and its citizens
by Olamide Udoma
- Watch: Eko Atlantic City – The journey to completion I
- Walling in the one percent: Eko Atlantic
- Considering African urban utopias
- Visions of African urban futures yet to come
Eko Atlantic City, a man-made extension of Lagos, is taking shape. In the past three months the first multi story building has gone up, waterways are being constructed and roads are being paved. The city is estimated to impact 400,000 – 21,000,000 people and provide accommodation for 250,000 people and employment opportunities for a further 150,000 people. The city will have an impact economically, socially and environmentally on Lagos State. However, there hasn’t been enough coverage and exposure on the present and future ramifications to the existing city.
Community Conservation and Development Initiatives (CCD), Environmental law Research Institute (ELRI), the Heinrich Boll Stiftung (hbs) and a number of professionals in the fields of environmental law, architecture and urban planning, marine research and oceanography came together to examine the ‘Draft final Environmental Impact Assessment Report” submitted to the federal Ministry by the developers in 2011 (three years after construction work had commenced). The report concluded that the project lacks transparency, participation and doesn’t always adhere to the rule of law. This came about by looking at three major concerns of the project, which were; Land Reclamation and its Impacts on the Communities; Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and Report and The role the project plays for the future of the Megacity Lagos and its citizens? The first two, concern the environmental impact and the last concern is social and shall be tackled in ‘The journey to completion III’.
Land Reclamation and its Impacts on the Communities
An 8km long wall made from concrete blocks (accropodes) weighing 5 tons each is expected to protect the new city as well as Lagos from ocean surge. 95 million cubic metres of sand have to be dredged from marine shelf waters to reclaim 900 hectares of land for the project. The overall project has been promoted by Lagos States and the developers as the solution to protecting Lagos from constant flooding.
It has been estimated that over 300 million cubic meters of sand rather than the claimed 95 million are needed to fill the area for Eko Atlantic. This is a cause for concern because the sand bed in the ocean in the Lagos area has not been replenishing naturally due to various factors such as sand drifts along the West African coast. Therefore, dredging sand from this area is detrimental to the ocean bed.
The speed of the waves is also a cause for concern. The dredging can increase the energy of the waves before they hit the shore and now that they are diverted and pushed along the new “Great Wall” of Eko Atlantic City they are likely to gather more speed and thus would be hitting the shore in vulnerable areas such as Alta Beach. Between 1985 and 2009 the beach in Victoria Island eroded by an average of 6m and Lekki by 12m yearly. With the advent of Eko Atlantic the erosion of these beaches must have increased.
Overall, the outcome and concerns from the group of experts’ research concerning land reclamation were:
- The sand and block digging for the project needs to be closely monitored by the appropriate government authorities.
- The offshore dredging can increase the energy of the ocean waves which will be diverted to the eastern coast when hitting the new “Great Wall”.
- Have the tides and wave strength undergone a long term monitoring before commencement of the project? On which data do the foreign simulations rely on?
- There is need for provisions to hold the developers responsible for long term negative impacts caused by the project.
Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and Report
The Draft final Environmental Impact Assessment Report was submitted three years after construction work had commenced. However, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act 2004 states that an EIA must be carried out before embarking on any developmental project. Therefore, the law was not respected and the contractors should be reprimanded for proceeding on a project with large environmental implications without the necessary approval.
The Draft Final EIA confirms that the project might shift the erosion of Bar Beach (the beach where Eko Atlanic started) eastwards with a major adverse effect of 3km to the east and a moderate adverse effect up to lOkm to the east. The document proposes that if erosion becomes problematic, hard coastal structures should be considered. The stakeholder involvement was limited to local communities all situated on the west side of the project, while communities on the east side were not involved in the consultation process, even though they were listed as the most likely to be affected.
Overall, the outcome and concerns from the group of experts’ research concerning the EIA procedure were:
- The EIA was submitted 3 years after the commencement of dredging activities. This is a contravention to the rules of the EIA Act 2004. There is no evidence that the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) approved the construction.
- The affected communities were never involved in the project plans. Meanwhile, serious erosion is happening along the coastal areas identified as vulnerable in the “draft final EIA”.
- The affected areas have to be protected immediately; at the same time a consensus discussion is needed to find alternative solutions to the proposed hard coastal structures.
Overall, the EIA does not give real tangible solutions to the impact Eko Atlantic will have on Lagos State and it raises more questions than gives answers. Visibility of how these issues are and will be tackled as they become more prominent has not been made accessible to the public. Therefore there is continued growing concern about the transparency and environmental impact people living in Lagos will be faced with during and after completion. More research needs to be done and more solutions need to be found because construction of the900 hectares city is well under way.