Okun Alfa is a coastal community located in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, on the coastline by the Atlantic Ocean.
The community beach, known as Alpha Beach, used to be a popular tourist destination for many fun seekers at weekends and festive periods.
However, an increasingly worrisome ocean surge and shoreline erosion in recent years have claimed the beach and now threatening the existence of the community, with massive flooding which has destroyed property worth millions of Naira.
The surge has washed away powerlines and poles, throwing the entire community into darkness
The only primary health care centre in the community has been destroyed and abandoned by health workers as the raging sea eats away land and destroys buildings
The once-thriving and renowned Alpha Beach, which used to host diverse socio-economic activities as well as local and international concerts, is now a ghost town, with the local economy crippled.
Some residents of Okun-Alfa believe that the unrelenting surges is a consequence of the multi-billion-dollar Eko Atlantic project being undertaken by the Lagos State Government across an adjourning area of the Lagos coastline. The project is the development and construction of a high-brow mixed-use development proposed to inhabit some 250,000 residents among other commercial property ventures on lands that are currently being reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean.
The project involves the reclamation of 10km of land from the ocean which would be used for the construction of a Dubai-like city in Nigeria’s economic capital. The state government is reported to have embarked on the project in a bid to protect the Bar Beach (where the reclamation is ongoing) and the adjourning Ahmadu Bello Road on Victoria Island, as well as the entire island, which experiences flooding when the ocean water surges. Observers claim that the project (Eko Atlantic City) does not follow the needed due diligence process. The purported Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project has never been made public amid claims by civil society practitioners that the undisclosed EIA is either incomplete or does not exist. But state officials insist that the project is an adaptation measure designed to restore what has been lost to the Atlantic Ocean in the past and then prevent future losses.
Recently, the state government commenced the construction of a drainage channel that is expected to align with a nearby channel in another community. This will allow the flood water in Okun-Alfa to flow out into the Lagos Lagoon. Residents see the drainage construction as a source of relief from the hardship they have experienced whenever there is a heavy downpour and surge of the Atlantic Ocean.
By Tina Armstrong-Ogbonna