Barely 10 weeks after a university don, Dr. Dupe. Olayinka, raised doubts over the safety of Eko Atlantic City, a mega project championed by the Lagos State Government, some environmentalists yesterday warned against the threatening ocean surge within the vicinity of the Bar Beach and Kuramo Beach.
When completed, the project, which is billed to cover 9 million square metres of reclaimed land, would provide housing to about 250,000 residents of the state.
But according to experts, environmental concerns for beaches such as Kuramo, Oniru and Bar Beach, which are currently experiencing the surge, have been exacerbated by the turbulence of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the reclaimed land from the ocean for the project.
While debunking claims that the ocean surge was partly to blame for the flooding of the Lekki axis of the state, the Public Relations Officer, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), south-west zone, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said only turbulence was experienced.
He said: “Contrary to claims, there was no flooding in Lagos or Lekki and if there was, we would have been alerted. The only alert we received today was concerning the ocean surge.
“Some environmentalists had contacted NEMA to warn members of the public not to swim in the ocean or any of the beaches due to the turbulence from the ocean.
“Although the surge does not mean that they cannot visit the beaches, they are urged to stay away from the water because such surging waves carries whatever is in its path.”
He said the agency initially didn’t want to raise the alarm and cause panic, but was more interested in doing a deeper assessment of the surge with a group of experts from different agencies.
Farinloye said: “For now, we want people to keep out of the water till proper and deeper analysis is done and then measures to ameliorate the effect are put in place.
“Ordinarily, all beaches are supposed to have medical centres in them but at the moment, only about two have such facilities and that is why a stakeholders’ meeting billed for next week will tackle such issues.”
On whether the surge was exacerbated by the Eko Atlantic project, Farinloye said that was part of what the experts would assess and discuss during the stakeholders’ meeting and then work on ways to ameliorate the effects of the project on the ocean.
When contacted, one of the environmentalists who had alerted NEMA, Mr. Sunny Osaghale, said they were forced to bring it the agency’s attention because of the alarming height of the waves.
He said: “We had to say something because some people are ignorant and they think they can swim in the ocean the same way they swim in the pools.
“Ordinarily, when the ocean is choked, it will surge on the sea reservoirs which are the shorelines, but the shorelines in Lagos have been washed away and what is left is weak and that is why the ocean overflows the banks.”