Atlantic Surge: Need For Knowledge-based Development
Tue, 28/08/2012 ? 1:23am | LEADERSHIP EDITORIAL Editorial

A powerful surge of the Atlantic Ocean on August 18 swept about 16 persons away from the Kuramo axis of the Lagos coastline. The potent waves first attacked the Kuramo Beach near Goshen Estate and later spread to Alpha Beach, Mayegun and Badagry waterfronts all in Lagos State.

This sad incident has appropriately provoked debate as to its core causes, the proactivity of policies, knowledge-based urban development planning, emergency response and capacity of environmental agencies to predict related dangers in a timely manner.

The Lagos State government under the leadership of Governor Babatude Fashola is reputed for its far-reaching and imaginative infrastructural and human development footing. But what happened on August 18 appears to have caught it off-guard and left it playing catch-up with the immediate measures of destroying the leftover of Kuramo beachfront residents and small-businesses.

At press time, it has sealed off the Kuramo waterfront with an order of relocation issued to residents of the area. For good measure, Prince Segun Oniru, Lagos State Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development has listed other coastal waterfront areas from which residents are expected to relocate. These include those of Badagry, Ojo, Goshen Estate, Maiyegun and Alpha Beach.

But there is more to the behavior of oceans than what these measures appear to communicate or indicate are the causative triggers. The capture of coastal land by the world?s oceans is clearly a natural phenomenon. Coming at this time of scientifically proven global warming and increased precipitation may hand a ready-made defense to the Lagos State, a scenario it is already passing the buck to.

Our position is that the environmental crisis unfolding deserves a more scientific evaluation before hurried or politically biased conclusions are made. In a knowledge age, the lack of deployment of rigorous scientific data to prove that global warming is the sole culprit weakens the states attempts to push a case in that direction.

It?s then little surprise that some opinions are pointing at the construction of the new ?Eko Atlantic City? by the state. This position alleges the dredging in that massive project has empowered the Atlantic Ocean?s discharge of its tidal wave to maximum width and places, which constitutes the key trigger to the surge. But this position, while worth investigating, still requires more proof.

While we consider the position of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that the surge was a natural disaster and human casualty man-made -intellectually lazy ? we believe that Lagos State and other coastal states should always integrate indigenous researchers? ideas and expertise into policy decisions and programmes, especially ones that verge on the environment.

They must not continue with the objectionable practice of always inviting and using experts from overseas to the exclusion of indigenous inputs. We also urge the federal government to get involved with managing extreme challenges on this scope. Lagos State is Nigerian territory.

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