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LAND RECLAMATION…BENEFITS AND DISADVANTAGES

Sometime in February, I wrote an article about dredging in real estate. Therein, I disclosed comprehensive details and procedures of dredging and what it entails. I also listed the requirements for the registration of dredgers. Today, I will be writing about reclamation and its various forms and method.

Yesterday, I got an E-mail on ibejulekkilawyer@gmail.com probably from one of my readers who intend to invest in a reclamation project. He asked me about land reclamation, its meaning and benefits. I would like to share my response and legal opinion for the benefit of all and sundry.

Most of us staying in Lagos Nigeria especially Lagos Island are probably staying on a land that was reclaimed. Let me give few examples

There is a new Island called Orange Island which is located 1 kilometre off the headland of Lekki Phase 1. The project is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative theorized in the original master plan of Lagos State. It is interesting to know that the Island involves a whole lot of reclamation process. The project involves a reclamation process of about 150 hectare of land.

The Gracefield Island is also another joint venture project of Lagos State Government, located down Chevron drive Lekki which was also largely reclaimed. Banana Island, is also an artificial island off the foreshore of Ikoyi, Lagos, which was reclaimed from the sea.

Eko Atlantic is an entire new coastal city being built on Victoria Island, standing on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5 kilometre long sea wall. Some refer to Eko Atlantic as a land that was aggressively reclaimed. This was because most people never thought it would be possible. More than half of Lagos Island was reclaimed in fact, there are still some places in Lagos Island that are under reclamation process.

Another one is the on-going construction on Dangote oil refinery. The project site is larger than Victoria Island. It is located on 2135 hectares of land in Epe, Lagos and so far as at November 2016, dredgers have reclaimed 13 million m³ out of 30 million m³ of land. The Lekki Free Trade Zone was also reclaimed. The reclamation process was of over 1.5 square kilometers area.

Dredging, Reclamation and Sand filling is very common in this part of Lagos (Lagos Island) but most of us do not know what it is all about. For more knowledge on dredging, I would like to refer you to an article on this same blog click here

Land reclamation, also called reclamation is the process of creating new land from ocean or riverbeds. Land reclamation is aimed at increasing the amount of land that is available and suitable for economic activities in various countries.

Land reclamation requires heavy construction work, bulldozers, scrapers, excavators, continuous operation digging machines, concrete pourers etc. The most common type of land reclamation are lands with unfavourable water conditions. In swampy areas or wet land, reclamation is aimed at increasing dry land, improving its temperature, by draining the land. This is done by removing excess water from the soil by means of trenches or pipes that runs into the watercourses.

Land reclamation can be achieved with a number of different methods. The simplest method involves simply filling the area with large amounts of heavy rock and/or cement, then filling with clay and dirt until the desired height is reached. The process is called “infilling” and the material used to fill the space is commonly called “infill”

There are however other methods of land reclamation depending upon the type of fill material, foundation soil, topography of the seabed and the availability of equipment.

OTHER TYPES OF LAND RECLAMATION ARE:

DRY METHOD

The dry method is suitable for filling material from land sources, especially rock. Generally, the dry method works well for foreshore locations with underlying competent seabed soil. If the seabed soil is weak, a mud wave will be created in front of the fill because of displacement. In that case, a greater quantity of fill material would be required.

HYDRAULIC RECLAMATION METHOD

Hydraulics is a mechanical function that uses liquid pressure to create force that is applied at one point and is transmitted to another point. At this point, a wet method of reclamation is implemented when fill material is obtained from an offshore borrow source. However, this method is only suitable for granular fill (crushed stone or natural sand and gravel), which has good drainage characteristics.

DIRECT DUMPING

A direct dumping method is used when the seabed is deep or the underlying seabed soil is soft. A bottom-opening barge usually carries fill material from the borrow source and either sails with a self-propeller or pushed by the powerful tugboat to the designated location. At the location, fill material is dumped by opening the bottom of the barge. Sufficient draft and clearance is required for this method. This method is used not only for granular material but also for stiff clay and soft clay. However, dumping of soft clay is not appropriate for deeper seabed conditions since soft clay can be detached, and the environment can be affected. Bottom-opening barges usually have a capacity of a few thousand cubic meters and the production rate of reclamation using bottom-opening barges is largely dependent upon the number of barges used and the distance between the borrow sources and the reclaimed area. The dumping location is generally controlled by a global positioning system. However, bottom dumping alone cannot complete the reclamation because it can only operate up to 2 – 3 meters depth below sea level. The next level of fill has to be raised by hydraulic filling or other means.

SAND SPREADING

Sand spreading is implemented when a shallow seabed is encountered or when the seabed soil is too soft. The spreader is mounted on a small floating barge. The end of the discharge pipe is usually closed and several perforations are provided along the last two to three sections of the discharge pipes. Sand is discharged through the perforations with water.

PUMPING INSIDE THE BUNDS

Reclamation can start from the coastal line and advance towards the sea. However, this type of reclamation may lead to great loss of fill material because of wave and current action. Therefore, sometimes reclamation is carried out within a protected area after a bund has been formed around the proposed reclamation area. In this way, losses caused by wave and current action can be minimized.

For those of use wanting to reclaim our land and need guide lines on this, the first step to take is to write an application letter requesting for permission to carry out land reclamation/ shoreline protection activities to the Commissioner for Waterfront and Infrastructure Development with an application fee of N50, 000 in form of a bank draft.

An Environmental Impact Analysis Report document is also needed. The EIA report which should be prepared by a qualified Marine Engineer or Scientist and approved at the EIA Department of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment. This shall contain two main important reports:

  • Hydrographic Survey Report. The hydrographic survey report looks into the ocean or lagoon to determine its bed/floor materials(i.e. the quantity of sand, mud, rock),the tide and water levels
  • Bathymetric Survey Report of the proposed water area to be dredged for reclamation. The Bathymetric Survey Report shows the depth of the water-bodies from the surface and what the impact of dredging will be the immediate environment.

Immediately an approval is granted, the applicant will be required to pay the sum of N2million as administrative fee to the Ministry of Waterfront and Infrastructure Development and N75 per cubic meter of sand needed for the portion of land to be reclaimed.

REQUIREMENTS FOR SAND FILLING/ RECLAMATION/ EXTENSION WORKS APPLICATION

  1. Proof of Ownership/ Certificate of Occupancy of the waterfront land.
  2. Boundary Survey of existing land.
  3. Topography survey.
  4. Proposed ground finishing height.
  5. Environmental Impact Analysis Report (EIAR).
  6. Proposed Infrastructure Layout.
  7. Evidence of payment of the Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development administrative charge.
  8. Formal letter of application addressed to the Honourable Commissioner forwarding all the above-listed documents.

 REQUIREMENTS FOR SHORELINE PROTECTION APPLICATION

  1. 1 Copy of Site Location Sketch.
  2. 1 Copy of Site Plan
  3. Photographs of the location.
  4. 2 Sets of /Engineering Drawings and Specification.
  5. Structural details/ Calculation.
  6. Dimension of boundary extension.
  7. Proof of Ownership/ Certificate of Occupancy.
  8. Evidence of payment of the Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development administrative charge.
  9. Boundary Survey of existing land.
  10. Topography survey.
  11. Proposed ground finishing height.
  12. Evidence of up-to-date payment of tax.
  13. Formal letter of application addressed to the Honourable Commissioner forwarding all the above-listed documents.

It should be noted that even after submitting all necessary documents and fulfilling all obligations, the application for reclamation might be rejected. This might be because the land to be reclaimed might interfere with drainage channels or might be foreseen to cause environmental hazard in the nearest future.

BENEFITS OF LAND RECLAMATION

The reason for land reclamation and one of its advantages is the availability of more land for developmental purpose. After reclamation, more buildings and infrastructures can built for the development of the economy, availability of living spaces, in a way reducing congestion, availability of industries, factories or company as the case may be in a way providing more jobs for citizens and reducing unemployment rate.

DANGERS OF LAND RECLAMATION

Land reclamation though with its many benefits, has certain disadvantages. Land reclamation is associated with some dangers, such as flooding and soil liquefaction. Reclaimed lands are expensive and can be damaging to corals and marine life.

For further assistance, explanation, or consultation on this subject matter or any other land/property related issues, do not hesitate to contact me via ibejulekkilawyer@gmail.com or Call 08034869295. You can also email me on whatever question you have on land/property law and anything relating to it.

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