International development experts say climate change is largely to blame for Nigeria’s growing erosion crisis in a country long dependent on hydropower plants for its electrical needs.
Nigeria’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said the collapse of the Ajaokuta-Ikot Abasi-Aba road has compromised Nigeria’s vast hydropower capacity and could leave massive damage in its wake if it is not fixed.
According to Nigeria’s Department of Hydropower, the Ajaokuta-Ikot Abasi-Aba route has given way under rainwater.
“The recent heavy downpour across the nation resulted in the collapse of the road in some areas,” the agency said in a statement.
“The road has effectively impeded the free movement of goods and persons in some parts of the country due to the temporary closure of some major haulage routes by flooding.”
The collapse of the road, which links the southern port city of Onne with the industrial hub of Lagos, has stranded shipping containers carrying goods from the port.
Noting that Nigeria’s network of infrastructure has significantly deteriorated in recent years, the agency said authorities are working to repair it before winter cold season subsides.
Jonathan Okoroafor, a spokesman for SEMA, said that the total infrastructure of the Ajaokuta-Ikot Abasi-Aba road that was washed away in recent months stands at about US$168 million.
The agency has launched an awareness campaign to enlighten Nigerians about the importance of protecting their nation’s infrastructures from flooding, which has long plagued the country’s south.
“It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the … Agency to mobilize all necessary resources required to immediately address the erosion challenge in the areas,” Okoroafor said.
The problem is even greater in the north, which despite experiencing periodic heavy rains, is not as able to absorb them as the south.
However, aid experts said severe weather in northern Nigeria has worsened erosion problems because of the failure of infrastructure such as roads, electricity generation, and inadequate construction of bridges and culverts to help with storm drainage.
Prof Ademola Lawal, a former member of Nigeria’s Basic Education Commission (NBS), said heavy rains combined with poor infrastructure in many northern areas resulted in severe erosion along the Kano-Maiduguri highway that connects the region with neighboring Cameroon.
The situation has been aggravated by the deadly Boko Haram insurgency in the north.
While some aid workers said the government is fighting efforts to fight erosion, others believe the problem is much more complex than current data indicates.
“A lot of things are happening at the same time, many of which contribute to the erosion. It’s not only the Niger Delta that contributes to this. There are all the rivers that flow into the Niger which cause flooding in certain areas,” said Mr. Okoroafor.