LASG Shuts Down Ajah Dredging Sites
The Lagos State Government has banned further dredging activities on the Aja-Badoreh road axis of the Lekki peninsula with immediate effect. It also ordered sand stockpile operators in that axis to stop selling sand within two weeks of the order until the new road is commissioned. This was to stop the movement of heavy trucks on the uncompleted road.
According to the secretary of the Dredgers Association of Nigeria, Mr Richard Ntan, who led a delegation of his members to a meeting at the State Government Secretariat at Alausa Ikeja where the communiqué on this was read, the move followed petitions by the chiefs of Badoreh, Lamgbasa and surrounding communities who feared that the continued use of the road by heavy-duty sand-bearing trucks will cause a quick disrepair of the new road. The communiqué was said to have noted that when the Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), visited the area to see things for himself, he did not like the environmental condition the dredging activities left the new road in.
When DDH visited the Badoreh road dredging axis the day following the order most sites were quiet and some members of the Association were seen in what they described as a crucial meeting.
The genesis of the problem was a flood of petitions which reached Governor Fashola from the chiefs of the Ajah community coupled with the unhappiness of the contractor handling the road, P W Nigeria Ltd, over the heavy use of the new road even before it has been commissioned by the State Government. A source at P W Nigeria Ltd who preferred anonymity perhaps because of the sensitive nature of the new development admitted that the company was not happy because sometimes the sand from the dredging activities would overspill into the road they are trying to complete. He said their fear was that since the new road presently had only the first asphalt layer and not the final top layer, their progress to put the second final asphalt may be hampered if the dredgers were not prevented from further disturbance of their construction work.
The meeting at Alausa where the Riot Act was read to the dredge operators was said to have been attended by over thirty local chiefs called Baales who spoke vehemently about the despoliation of their environment, especially the road, by the dredging activities. Members of the Association who spoke with DDH confirmed that the last straw that broke the camel’s back was a sand stockpile operation a few months back by a major multinational dredging company (names withheld), in favour of a local sand stockpile proprietor. The sand and water from that operation was said to have spilled over to the new road and blocked movement of traffic. The anomaly was said to have lasted some time before it was cleared by the multinational company. In the wake of that incident, complaints and petitions piled up at the Governor’s table forcing him to pay a visit to the dredging site.
The Dredgers Association however seem taken by surprise by the stop order of the Lagos State Government. Mr Ntan, their secretary-general, said he attended the Alausa meeting on behalf of his members thinking it was a normal stakeholders meeting to fashion out approaches of maintaining the road if it spoils due to their activities. He said he was shocked at the unfavorable turn of events. He said their Association planned to put forward a proposal to the State Government on how they can contribute financially to the repair and general maintenance of the road.
As at press time, the Association was holding meetings with a view to approaching the State Government again for a review of this situation that will put many operators out of business and their families’ welfare in jeopardy. While expressing the operational deficiencies of some of their colleagues, the members gathered for the meeting at the Association’s secretariat expressed willingness to turn a new leaf if their proposals were accepted and the sanction on their activities lifted. They said they were going to amend their ways and ensure that henceforth their operation along that road will be in line environment-friendly and safety standards. Moreover, they restated willingness to contribute to maintenance of the new road in due course.
DDH had reported earlier in the year that the Lagos State Government might consider closing down some dredging sites due to environmental sloppiness of their operators. In an interview granted the magazine by the General Manager of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency at the time, he revealed that government would be forced to do this because of the non-observance of environmental standards by the operators. It was not immediately clear at press time whether other dredging sites will now be visited to ascertain their environmental compliance level in the wake of this new alertness by the Lagos State Government agencies. But indications point clearly to the fact of community concern for their new road as the genesis of the order compelling Aja sand dredgers.