The Lagos Dredging Problem:
WHAT IS OVER-DREDGING?
It is no longer news that the government of Lagos State is out to settle accounts with many dredge operators in the state perceived to be doing things contrary to the right-hand side of the law. Since late November 2007, many dredging and sand stockpile sites have been stopped from operation, spanning Ajah-Badoreh road axis up to Ikorodu and Badagry. By late January and early February 2008 almost all sites were under lock, with the state’s Task Force on Mineral Resources Development patrolling to seize equipment of erring firms. But tracking the whole gamut of activities being put in place by the state government to reposition dredging, especially sand stockpile, in the state was like tracking a moving a target… so many things were happening as the days progressed.
By early March, the Commissioner of Waterfront Infrastructure Development announced he has been given the powers to grant consents for dredging, a role that was previously exercised by the Office of the Special Adviser on Mineral Resources. Etc. Etc. We have tried to put together a kaleidoscope of the significant events in the sector so far, culminating in so many enlightening interviews with key actors on the scene, including the Honourable Commissioner, Prince Adesegu Oniru.
At one of the consultative meetings called by the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Mineral Resources Development, one top official of the agency fumed against what he termed “over-dredging” of some rivers in the state. We gather that the matter of over-dredging is behind the clampdown and subsequent revision of some operational ambits under which many dredge operators and contractors had been operating in the state. At several points during the meeting, many voices spoke in divergent tunes about the matters arising. Today, the jury is still out on whether there is over-dredging and even on many other issues surrounding the desire of the state government to environmentally clean up the dredging sub-sector. Definition of over-dredging is currently being subjected to intense academic argumentation. Moreover, the extent of the state’s authority on the matters at stake has been raised by other schools of thought. As at press time, a final resolution of the impasse is being awaited.
We have run an extensive report on this development. In some segments, we have tried to bring you uncensored views of many of the actors. Quite apart from the pains being felt by operators, the development opens up the sub-sector to very much light. The realities under which the sub-sector is growing or is being regulated or affected by various sectors and authorities in Lagos, and Nigeria in general, are being laid bare for full public grasp for the very first time.
The earnest hope is for Lagos State government to deploy astute leadership and control that would regulate the sector without scorching its progress. As a mega-city, the demand for sand in Lagos is highest among all cities in West Africa today. This puts enormous leadership challenges on the managers of the sector as a test of their sagacity and vision. The issue at stake is a purely economic one whose mishandling will send unhealthy ripples through many other sectors of the state’s economy. The environmental concern, if not fittingly addressed , would, by comparison, prove to have been far-fetched despite the flowery rhetoric. Therefore, caution here, would turn out to be the better side of valour.
And the CONEXPO 2008 connection …
This was another event that the magazine covered in full at Las Vegas, USA, so as to begin to connect Nigerian dredge sector, construction and building industry operators to the international mainstream of activities and businesses for an expanded world view and enlarged opportunities in the plants and equipment market. In this issue, we have gone to some extra lengths to bring information and pictures that could propel further action on the part of those of our readers who want an outreach to the international mainstream of dredging and dredge equipment dealing, etc. And this has given rise to the first edition of our startup sister magazine, African Plants & Equipment Digest. It will provide be a useful marketplace for buying, selling and renting of plants and equipment needed in the industry. Embrace it and let us know your feelings!