Posted on February 5, 2024
Operators have warned that the dredging activities would result in the shutdown of beaches and cause job losses.
The Chief Executive Officer, Landmark Group, Paul Onwuanibe, said the dredging activities posed an imminent threat to employment and tourism.
According to Onwuanibe, beach dredging is not merely an environmental concern, but it also has economic repercussions that could reverberate across various sectors and impact negatively on revenue generation, and employment.
He said, “The closure of these beaches is anticipated to result in substantial job losses. The tourism industry, which heavily relies on the vibrant coastal attractions, will bear the brunt.
“Businesses operating along these shorelines, such as beach resorts, restaurants, and recreational facilities, will face operational challenges, potentially leading to downsizing and layoffs. This, in turn, will have a cascading effect on the livelihoods of the many individuals employed in these establishments.
“Secondly, there is a looming threat of a reduction in tourist travels to Nigeria, particularly when juxtaposed with neighboring countries such as Ghana.”
According to Onwuanibe, the closure of these beaches, popular for their scenic beauty and recreational activities, will likely deter potential tourists.
Nigeria, which boasts a burgeoning tourism sector, risks losing its competitive edge in attracting both domestic and international visitors,” he claimed.
Onwuanibe further noted that when compared to countries like Ghana actively promoting tourism, Nigeria might emerge as a less attractive destination.
He added, “Tourists in search of coastal experiences could potentially shift their preferences, resulting in a noticeable redirection of tourism revenue away from Nigeria.
“In essence, the repercussions of the dredging activities extend beyond environmental concerns; they have the potential to disrupt the economic landscape, leading to job losses and adversely affecting Nigeria’s standing in the global tourism market when compared to competing nations like Ghana.”
He noted that interventions and strategic planning were crucial to mitigate those potential setbacks and safeguard the economic interests associated with that vital coastal region.
Similarly, the General Manager of Santa Cruz Beach, Chima Anaba, said the dredging activities going on at Eko Atlantic, for instance, had caused some serious damage to the entire coastline on the Lekki corridor.
He said, “Some months ago during the rainy season, we lost some of the coconut trees and other structures that beautified our beach environment as a result of the dredging on the coastline. We need wave breakers as it is now along the coastline to forestall more havoc on the beach when the rain comes again.
“The effects are that some of the beaches lost some structures and places where fun seekers often sit when they come. And that has reduced the level of patronage to a certain level, leading to job losses, because when patronage is at its lowest, a lot of people will have to downsize to be able to remain in business.”
Meanwhile, the founder of International Hospitality Tourism and Eco-Sustainability Forum, Chibuikem Diala, said human activities like dredging for commercial development hugely impacted the environment, destroying mangroves, as well as disrupting beach life.
He said, “In this instance, without proper environmental impact assessment, large-scale dredging activities around the Eko Atlantic will contribute to the degradation of the beaches, thereby limiting attraction to tourists and reducing tourism receipts.
“Eko Atlantic City is a bold and beautiful project in itself and a prime real estate in Africa with lots of tourism attractiveness. This will also create employment. So, it is expected that the promoters of, for instance, Eko Atlantic, whom I believe conducted a dredging environmental social and impact assessment must ensure sustainable approaches that protect the environment from further coastal erosion, and habitat destruction as well as ensure that local wildlife are protected from harm.”