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Lagos government, Ikoyi residents bicker over trees felling, parks destruction

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Some of the trees cut by officials of Lagos state Parks and Gardens Agency

The felling of trees in Ikoyi, one of the affluent neighborhoods in Lagos State has raised environmental concerns among residents.The residents said the unusual action on the orders of Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) on Monday, September 7, 2020, including the destruction of a 100-year-old trees that define the neighbourhood is unacceptable.

Their position was based on the importance of trees to the quality of air residents breath, which is said to be toxic, especially with the epileptic power supply that has made generating sets the most viable source for electricity.

According to them, these generators, which are found in most households and organizations, emit carbon monoxide, which poses a great threat to human health.

Exposure to carbon monoxide, they said, is dangerous as it interacts with hemoglobin, displaces oxygen and forms carboxyhemoglobin (COHb), resulting in a lack of oxygen to the body cells and ultimately causing some health injuries.

One the residents, Ebinipere Fegha, stated that they were alarmed to find out that several century-old trees had been cut overnight and at least more than over 100 more trees were marked for felling.

She wondered why the government chose cutting of trees as the most important task to attend to now, thereby purposefully creating problems for its residents. Research, she noted , has shown that one large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four persons.

“So, why is the government trying to pull down trees and reduce the quality of air we breathe in. Trees are a renewable source and an important part of our ecosystem. Cutting them down reduces the flow of oxygen in the atmosphere”, she stated.

The Secretary-General of Victoria Island/ Ikoyi Residents Association (VIIRA), Abdul Latif Muse, confirmed that some residents were not happy with the development. He, however, said government has promised to plant five trees for each one felled.

Muse said the last rain that occurred led to severe flooding in Milverton, Lateef Jakende roads and several places in Ikoyi, hence the need for government’s intervention to build new roads and drainages.

MEANWHILE, the state government has sought for residents’ understanding and patience, particularly those in the right of way, saying it was necessitated for road rehabilitation and urban regeneration works in Ikoyi and environs.

The state noted that it has commenced road expansion and drainage projects in parts of Ikoyi, to improve the state of road and drainage infrastructure including the reduction of flood risk.

In achieving this, the state said, disruptions to the environment are not unexpected, which sometimes include felling of long-standing trees and clearing of some already beautified spaces.

According to a statement jointly signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye and the General Manager of LASPARK, Mrs. Adetoun Popoola,  the state explained that it understands the concerns of the residents and appealed that the bigger picture in terms of urban renewal and flood control in Ikoyi area is given the necessary priority.

Adeyoye explained further that four roads in each of Ikeja, Ikoyi and Victoria Island environs were selected as pilot for holistic upgrade under the State Urban Regeneration Initiative.

The construction works on the road projects, in line with International best practice, she said, were preceded by stakeholder engagements with all the participants or attendees taken through the scope, methodology, potential impact and mitigation of the individual and collective projects.

Also, Mrs. Popoola, stated that Section 432, Part XIII of the Environmental Management and Protection Law 2017 empowers LASPARK to supervise and grant permit for the felling of trees in Lagos, LASPARK ensured that the trees within the right of way alignment were properly assessed and enumerated.

“This was a well thought-out, strategic and unanimous decision by all relevant stakeholders including residents under the auspices of Victoria Island / Ikoyi Residents Association (VIIRA) The process is also being duly supervised and the appropriate permits to remove some trees were issued to the contractor through the Ministry of Works & Infrastructure”, she added.

While assuring residents that most of the trees removed from the Right of Way would be restored, Popoola added that, according to the LASPARK Law; provisions in terms of a green restoration fee have been made to replant five trees as replacements for each tree felled.

According to her, the Agency has two well-equipped nurseries where tree seedlings are propagated to ensure seamless restoration wherever necessary.


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