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Urban planning is a challenge in the state – proper planning is a challenge and in the instances government managed to plan, implementation is always a challenge. In urban planning, collaborative effort amongst all the stakeholders; government agencies and citizens is a critical success factor, but what is operational in Lagos is opposite, government agencies work independently of one and other and vis-à-vis the citizens. This makes proper implementation and coordination unachievable.
Enforcement of law against the violators of the environmental laws is weak and most times it is politicized – this is not just a Lagos State thing but a national challenge. Environmental legal framework is weak in Nigeria; there are institutional bottlenecks; multi-duplicity of functions among agencies of government saddled with the enforcement of the law, penalties and fines against the offenders are unimaginably very low. Because of this loophole, people contravene environmental law at will.
Government needs to review, update and strengthen these laws as soon as possible and make them relevant to our present day realities.
Corrupt practices among government/enforcement officials is a related setback; they compromise on established standards and overlook wrong doings at the altar of gratification. This set wrong precedence for people to evade the law at will.
Incessant and unregulated sand filling going on in the state is another key contributor, coupled with poor drainage systems within the state.
Allocation of floodplains and wetlands for development is another trigger to this problem of perennial flooding in the state. Floodplains and wetlands are meant to be preserved, they serve as buffer in the event of flash floods but in Lagos practically all the wetlands have been destroyed in the name of development and economic gains.
Poor waste management structure within the state is another contributing factor coupled with the inconsistencies of Government policies.
The current waste management structure is not inclusive, it excludes the informal sector; the cart pushers and waste scavengers, despite their exclusion they are still very much around. People still largely patronize them because of the ineffectiveness of the current structure.
Government should integrate them into the existing waste management structure, what is required is to get them properly organized and regulate their operations and use them for neighbourhood operations and areas inaccessible to waste trucks.
For the current structure to work and cater for the growing need of the citizens, the state must adapt the adopted structure to our realties here, copying directly from the west will not yield the desired results because our realities and culture are different from theirs.
Bad human behavioural pattern is another leg to this perennial flooding problem – indiscriminate littering and dumping of wastes and debris into the drains, construction on drainage pathways; blockage of drains, violation of building codes and regulations.
The ever increasing population of Lagos resulting in land cover modifications (indiscriminate removal of vegetative cover) and depletion of ecosystems in the name of development is another factor. National Population Commission (NPC) put the population of Lagos at about 21 million as at 2016.
Lagos is a coastal city and coupled with the problem of Climate Change with attendant heavy torrential rains, Lagos State Government needs to act fast in tackling the problem of incessant flooding in the state by encouraging planting of more trees and vegetative covers in the state, create more awareness among the citizens through the Community Based Organizations, Faith based Organizations, Neighbourhood Watch, Landlord and Residence Associations, Traditional Rulers etc. about the danger of persistent flooding to our city, activate processes to review and update our obsolete environment laws, incorporate the informal sector into the existing waste management structure.
Also, Government should not play lip service to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process before signing-on on development projects, reclaim our wetlands and floodplains and preserve the same and prohibits illegal sand filling and mining in the state with immediate effect.
Above all, an effective and all-encompassing urban planning should be the bedrock of an effective intervention and preservation of the same to tackle the problem of perennial flooding in the state.
OLUDAPO, Olukunle Opeyemi is an Environmentalist, a Sustainable Development Enthusiast and an Eco Consultant. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Lagos. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Weitz Centre for Sustainable Development, Israel, and The Institute for National Transformation (INT).
He is a certified World Climate Simulation Training facilitator by Climate Interactive, Climate Wednesday and the University of Mohammed VI Polytechnic, Morocco and a National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) Certified Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) professional.
He is also the convener of The Sustainability Summit - a roundtable meeting point for traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to confer and proffer practicable, multi-disciplinary adaptation strategies to some of the environmental and developmental problems plaguing our society.
Olukunle writes and comments on developmental issues in Nigeria, Africa and the World at large.