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Badagry Deep Seaport scheme hangs in balance as community plans resistance

There are palpable fears that the much celebrated Badagry Deep Seaport project may take a longer time than expected; if it will ever be at all, considering revelations by the host community.

Two key factors are currently worrying the prospective host community. These are their inability to site the approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report which they argue does not exist in the first instance and what they described as plans of the government to take over their land without carrying them along.

In this interview with High Chief Menu Toyon, the Mobee of Badagry Kingdom, during a visit to his palace by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) to round off its three-day retreat for all Nigerian Maritime Journalists; he spoke for the host community on the proposed Badagry Deep Sea Port and lamented how both the investor APMT and the Lagos state government do not carry them along.

The royal father fingered insincerity on the part of the investor, APTM, saying the company is not communicating now. He expressed fears saying he cannot be able to handle issues of youth restiveness if the investor fails to associate itself with the host community now they want to start construction works.

He argued that “maritime or whatever associated business that is coming to Badagry in terms of deep sea port will expose Badagry to some hazards no doubt about that”.

“Yes there was jubilation on hearing the news that we are going to have a deep seaport but at the end of the day, Badagry where you came today and saw everywhere peaceful and fine may not be the same again.

“When the time comes, there will be influx of people of questionable characters. It happens everywhere, all what we are praying for is that we don’t experience what is happening in the Niger Delta here in Badagry because maritime brings a lot of goodies and challenges.

Listing areas of fears in terms of violence when the scheme begins, the Toyon said “Number one, when the port starts, our roads are going to be in worst shape”.

“There will be environmental degradation in Badagry which will be very bad. I would have preferred luxury cruise ships in Badagry where we have very beautiful vessels that can be taking tourists round. The port will distort our peace.

On why he will subscribe to the scheme, Toyon replied thus: “Do you know why I will say yes that a deep seaport should come, because our father in the person of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one time premier had clamoured for deep seaport in Badagry over 40 years ago but thank God his prayer is being answered by God but you know we stakeholders don’t know where we are going yet”.

“They are going to use some peoples’ properties, they are going to dislocate some people but I will tell you that when you light a candle and put a paper on top of it, there is bound to be fire. Let the APM Terminal come and meet the stakeholders and talk to us. Though we held a meeting about two years ago, the state government will be having 20%, federal government will be having 20% and APM terminal will be having 60% which is 100%, what percent are they giving to the stakeholders, I mean owners of the land?

“My grandfather was among the first farmers at the Gberefu beach land in the 1880s and till now wet the stakeholders have nothing to show that things are coming to Badagry. Good, It has been approved by the federal government, Lagos state welcome it, oil exploration is going on with crude being taken but the stakeholders on oil exploration area don’t have anything to show for it, we are in the dark.

But as a sign of readiness for partnership, the traditional ruler called on the government to broker a settlement deal between the host community and APM Terminal so that we can iron things out before the situation will degenerate to real confusion like in Niger Delta.

He made it clear that “We have eight quarters in Badagry, we are not hostile, the way they nurtured us right from youth cannot permit us to be violent like Niger Delta. But the environment must be well protected and government contribution to developing areas must be regular with other good things coming the way of our youths”.

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