Lagos decries wetland loss, tasks students on ecotourism

Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti

Lagos State government has decried the alarming rate of wetlands and biodiversity loss in the state, stressing the need to halt indiscriminate destruction of natural habitats, induced by unregulated human activities.

Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, who spoke at a briefing to mark the commencement of the 2018 edition of yearly Youth Conservation Ecotourism programme in Alausa, enjoined Lagosians to commit themselves to a lifestyle that encouraged environmentally friendly options.

According to him, there is need for residents to embrace the attitude of visiting eco-tourism sites for relaxation and knowledge of the environment, stressing that “the future generation would not forgive us if will failed to protect the environment.”

He stated that the Conservation Ecotourism, a week-long tour of wetlands and other conservation sites established by the government was to enhance the awareness on resources and to encourage sustainable approach to the environment.

The Commissioner said the Youth Programme meant for students in Lagos State Secondary Schools was holding successfully for the third consecutive year because of government’s belief in the ability of students as change agents.

Durosinmi-Etti stated that the ecotourism programme had been organized with the primary aim of expanding the knowledge and changing the mindset of the general public about conventional tourism, especially in relation to the environment.

The goal of this year’s programme themed: ‘Balancing Biodiversity Conservation with Community Livelihood in Lagos State’, he said was to educate the general public about human values towards a sustainable environment and bring about a situation in which people live in harmony with nature.

According to him, the youth outreach ecotourism programme on wetland and biodiversity conservation would provide science-based, hands-on activities for students to gain proper understanding of functions and values of wetlands and bio-diversity as well as explore strategies for sustaining these unique ecosystems.

He said that having realised the capacity of young ones to communicate and bring about change, the Lagos State Government was educating the young, who were leaders of tomorrow, to embrace the correct and sustainable use of God-given environmental resources and spread the message to others.

Durosinmi-Etti pointed out that the ten participating students, who were selected through a rigorous process, would have the opportunity to visit some pristine and fragile ecosystems, zoological gardens and conservation centres across the five divisions of Lagos State to get acquainted with the abundant wetlands resources and biodiversity of the state.

Meanwhile, fears that the planned new dawn for Lagos wastewater plants will remain an illusion heightened last week with information that the needed funds are yet to be released for the revamp of moribund facilities.

Wastewater Management in Lagos State as the case in other parts of Nigeria is minimal, with only a fraction of wastewater being treated. Sanitation systems currently used in Lagos State include both government and private facilities.

A small number of publicly owned plants are available to treat wastewater before it is released into water bodies.
The existing facilities serve only a limited part of the population. It has been estimated that about 94 percent of people in Lagos have no access to sanitary toilets.

With the increasing rains, residents are worried that they will suffer some environmental challenges witnessed last year as a result of the despicable state of the plants.

The Guardian gathered that none of the existing waste water plants has received any new equipment for its rehabilitation, leaving residents in trepidation.

This is years after the Lagos state government promised to rehabilitate existing waste water treatment plants in the mega city.

The Guardian learnt the government is making efforts to rehabilitate all the existing wastewater treatment plants.

The affected plants to include the Federal – owned wastewater treatment plants located in FESTAC / Satellite towns, Gowon Estate, Trade Fair Complex, 1004 Estate, Nigerian Law School, PHCN Thermal Station (Egbin), University of Lagos, School of Nursing (Obalende) and Muritala Mohammed airport.
This, also include the Lagos State Waste Water Management Treatment Plants at Abesan, Oke-Afa and Iponri.and as such the state government plans to boost capacity by integrating this number with federal government-owned waste water treatment facilities in Lagos State.

Recently, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said his administration is poised to surmount the underlying challenges confronting wastewater management in the state is as well as unveil the business opportunities embedded in acceptable wastewater management practices.

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