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Despite the government’s appeal for tolerance, over 1,300 Lagosians have petitioned the Lagos State Government to stop cutting down trees in the Ikoyi area of the state over road rehabilitation purposes.
The residents signed a petition on Change.org and called for an end to the action.
The petition, which was initiated by one Seun Apana, noted that trees help to filter cancer-causing diesel fumes from the air and should be preserved.
Apana, who posted a video of some people cutting down trees, some of which were said to be over 100 years old, said the government was exposing the people to a lot of health hazards.
He said, “The alarming level of air pollution in Lagos caused by generators is causing severe harm to your health even if you consider yourself young and healthy. It is especially speeding the demise of our senior citizens.
“Disease caused by poor air quality is one of a few factors that contribute to our life expectancy being as low at 55 years, even lower than that in Ethiopia, which stands at 66, and a far cry from the world leader in life expectancy, Hong Kong at 85.
“One factor that makes living in this part of this already difficult to thrive in the city is the presence of trees that help to keep the balance between fresh air and carcinogenic diesel fumes are the filtering action of these invaluable trees.
“They improve the oxygen balance by helping to remove these toxins from the air and by producing oxygen through photosynthesis.
“Trees are also known scientifically to provide many other benefits, including the stress relief for humans when they walk among them.”
The petition, which was started on Tuesday, had been signed by 1,364 persons as of 6.08pm on Thursday, out of a target of 1,500.
A resident of the area, who identified himself simply as Papa Omotayo, noted that the state government could construct drainages without cutting down the trees.
He said, “I think it’s a complex issue and the government will like us to believe that it’s a simple issue that they have to cut down trees to widen the road. We’re in a world where everyone knows how important the environment is; people everywhere in the world are now realising the mistakes they made by taking advantage of the environment by cutting down trees and they are now trying to go back in time to have what we luckily have.
“There’s technology available to create roads or to create drainages that can work with trees. Some of these trees have been around longer than many of the residents, but the fact that they can be cut down so easily shows that we’re not thinking about our environment and how important it is to our well-being, especially during this difficult period when you think about COVID-19 and how it has being such a strain on people’s mental health.
“These trees are not really about nature, but they provide such a holistic multidimensional environment and they benefit so many people and help the environment in so many ways. We want the state government to stop the cutting of trees.”
Reacting to the complaints of the residents, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, and the General Manager of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, Adetoun Popoola, called for understanding, adding that the cutting down of the trees was necessary for road rehabilitation in the area.
Adeyoye, who noted that the project was of high strategic importance to the state government, assured the residents that the benefits and impact of the road and drainage outweighed the environmental cost incurred in the process.
She said, “The government commenced road expansion and drainage projects in certain parts of Ikoyi to improve the state of the road and drainage infrastructure, and reduce flood risks. Usually, during such construction activities, disruptions to the environment are expected, which sometimes include felling of long-standing trees and clearing of some already beautified spaces.
“While we understand the concerns of the residents of the area, we appeal that the bigger picture in terms of urban renewal and flood control in Ikoyi area is given the necessary priority.”
The LASPARK boss, Popoola said the action was a well thought out, strategic and unanimous decision by all relevant stakeholders, including the residents under the auspices of the Victoria Island/Ikoyi Residents Association, adding that most of the trees removed from the right of way would be restored.
“According to the LASPARK law, provisions in terms of a green restoration fee have been made to replant five trees as replacements for each tree felled. When re-planted, the trees will continue to function as a viable carbon sink to improve air quality and beautify the environment of the city of Lagos,” she stated.Follow us on social media