Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shipwrecked!!

On a few of my posts, I've mentioned shipwrecks that we pass often around Lagos.  Here's the latest BBC report that came out today, which I found very interesting.   Click here to see the video worth watching.

Enjoy!
This picture was taken on one of our beach trips off of Tarkwa Bay in Lagos.   
This was one of SEVEN shipwrecks that we saw on the beach that day. 


Nigeria's coast 'threatened by shipwrecks'


Up to 100 rusty shipwrecks line Nigeria's 853km (530-mile) shore, officials say. Some have been stranded for years and they are now being blamed for erosion that threatens homes and livelihoods.

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Imam Banuso Shamusideen on Alpha Beach
The mosque is in the sea now, the water just came and destroyed it”
Banuso ShamusideenAlpha Beach imam
The waterfront community at Alpha Beach in Lagos date their problems to a year ago when a barge washed up a kilometre away. Since its arrival, they say the waves have eaten into the land at a rate of up to 20m a month.
"Because the ship is such a solid object being where it shouldn't be, it causes a direct impediment to the natural flow of the current and stops sedimentation," says Desmond Majek from the Nigeria Conservation Foundation.
"But what's worse than that is that it causes these eddy currents that immediately start to chew up the entire shoreline."
Other buildings along the waterfront are now little more than piles of rubble. For those whose homes are just a few metres from the sea, panic is starting to set in.
Buildings and roads have crumbled into the advancing water.  
'Disaster zone'
"It's terrifying. In fact at night we don't sleep because we're thinking the water could come in at any moment," Bode Ajakaye says, pointing out the home he had bought with his wife Ladi to retire to.
"And the problem has been there for a while and it's caused by this wrecked ship. It's a disaster zone I must tell you."
Two workers dismantle a shipwreck in NigeriaDismantling ships becomes more complicated the longer the wreck stays on the beach
"The sea is inching [forward] every second," Mrs Ajakaye adds with a shake of her head.
"All the coconut trees have fallen into the sea. We need Nimasa [Nigerian Marine and Administration and Safety Agency] to remove this wrecked ship and hope that the beach comes back."
Nimasa is blamed by many for the number of wrecks, as it is responsible for the quality of ship that operates in Nigeria's waters and should be taking action to remove the stranded vessels.
The agency's director general Patrick Agpobolokemi defends his approach, saying officials were still carrying out an inventory of the number of ships stranded along the waterfront.
"Most of these ships that are abandoned in our waters are owned by foreigners. Foreigners have flouted our rules," he said.
"We are following due process in removing these wrecks and we are approaching the last lap of this process."
Painfully slow
Under maritime law it is the responsibility of the ship's owner to remove their stranded vessel from the coast.    
But with many of the wrecks having been bought cheap and barely seaworthy to work in Nigeria's oil industry, when trouble strikes they are often abandoned to the elements.
They want to appeal for the owners of the vessel to initially remove them. By the time the government comes in the ship has really sunk into the beach and it becomes more difficult to remove."


"The major issue is that when it [the ship] comes in, it takes a while for the government to get involved because of avoidance of litigation," Kunle Akinde from Accurist Marine and Dredging told me.
But it is a painfully slow process. Each wreck takes up to six months to be fully dismantled and conditions can be difficult and dangerous.


Mr Akinde is being employed as a contractor by Lagos state government to remove five ships from the state's congested waters, but his work removing the barge is suspended due to high tides.
"The problem of Alpha Beach is coastal erosion generated by the ocean's surge," says Prince Segun Oniru from Lagos state government.
"If we act quickly enough we can save life and property. But we need federal help."
In July, President Goodluck Jonathan visited Alpha Beach to see the erosion for himself and promised to take the problem seriously.  
Mr Oniru has employed contractors to remove the wrecks but would like to see a barrier built out into the sea to protect the area.
But the costs of such a major project are huge and the wheels of government in Nigeria turn slowly.
Whether the erosion is being caused by the shipwreck, ocean conditions or a bit of both, by the time a decision is made Alpha Beach may have disappeared under the waves.

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