Monday, 26 December 2016

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Badagry deep sea project: Indigenes disagree with FG, LSG

While the Federal and Lagos State Governments are basking in the euphoria of constructing the largest deep seaport (in Africa) in the ancient city of Badagry, the indigenes are enwrapped in the fear of the negatives, which the development will bring. They cite environmental degradation, deprivation of their main source of livelihood – farming – as some of the backlashes of the development.

Despite these fears, the Lagos State government and the Federal Government are already calculating the gains of the project. According to the authorities, the seaport would generate over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs and make the city one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world.
The facility, touted to be the biggest in the African continent, sits on a land space of over 1,000 hectares.
Speaking when he met with representatives of APM Terminals (a private firm) in London to advance the development of the Badagry Deep Seaport project, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, restated his administration’s key strategic imperative to create a friendly environment to encourage private sector participation in driving economic development in the state.
He assured that the state government would spare nothing to see the project to realisation, while pledging that the interests of the host communities within the location of the project will be protected.
In his remarks, Head of Africa, APM Terminals, Mr. Peter Volkjaer Jorgensen,  said his company was strongly committed to partnering with the state government on the project.
Beside APM Terminals, Maersk, one of the biggest cargo container companies, and many other firms have indicated interest to invest in the project.
“That means a lot of us in terms of employment will be involved. We hope that in the next two months we’re coming to start this project here,” Ambode said.
But amidst all these excitements, the Mobee of Badagry Kingdom, High Chief Menu Toyon, who spoke the minds of the over 12 communities in the area, said in the midst of the excitements, there are some underlying discomforts, which the Badagry community would be exposed to.
“I am delighted but there is no good thing without the other side. Yes, maritime or whatever associated business that is coming to Badagry in terms of deep seaport will expose Badagry to some hazards. No doubt about that. Yes, there was jubilation on hearing the news that we are going to have a deep seaport but at the end of the day, Badagry where you came today and saw everywhere peaceful and fine may not be the same again.
“When the time comes, there will be an influx of people of questionable characters. It happens everywhere. All we are praying for is that we don’t experience what is happening in the Niger Delta here in Badagry because maritime brings a lot of goodies and challenges,” he said.
Listing the hazards the project will bring to the community, the High Chief, said: “Number one, when the port starts, our roads are going to be bastardised; there will be environmental degradation in Badagry, which will be very bad. I would have preferred  luxury cruise ships in Badagry where we have very beautiful vessels that can be taking tourists round. The port will distort our peace.
“They are going to use some people’s property. They are going to dislocate some people but I will tell you that when you light a candle and put a paper on top of it, there is bound to be fire. Let the APM Terminal come and meet the stakeholders and talk to us. Though we held a meeting about two years ago, the state government will be having 20 per cent, Federal Government will be having 20 per cent and APM Terminal will be having 60 per cent, which is 100 per cent. What percentage are they giving to the stakeholders. I mean, owners of the land?
“My grandfather was among the first farmers at the Gberefu Beachland in the 1880s and till now, we the stakeholders, have nothing to show that things are coming to Badagry. Good, it has been approved by the Federal Government. Oil exploration is going on with crude being taken but the stakeholders on oil exploration area don’t have anything to show for it. We are in the dark,” he cried out.
About employment, which the Lagos State Government said was one of the  benefits  of the project, the Mobee recalled that the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) and the French Village sited in Badagry have not helped the indigenes in terms of employment.
“Let me tell you, we have ASCON and French Village as corporate bodies in Badagry. How many people can ASCON employ? How many people can French Village employ?
“How many people can local government employ? And there are lots of youths and if you don’t want devil to make use of you, you find something doing and that is why they are going to Seme to find their daily bread.
“We have eight quarters in Badagry. We are not hostile. The way they nurtured us right from youth cannot permit us to be violent like Niger Delta people. But environments are impacted negatively and the government  does not contribute to developing areas where they explore. They hardly contribute to developing areas where they explore wealth from,” he regretted.....
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