1.1 Background to the Study
Soil is an important resource covering
the land surface. Mining is the process of getting minerals and soil
components for various uses. Man depends on soil for agriculture,
construction and even as a habitat for various organisms (Mwangi, 2007).
People benefit from soil particularly sand and gravel but interfere and
disturb the resource through excessive exploitation to fulfill their
needs. There is worldwide concern about the environment which prompted
the researcher to carry out this study on the environment. It seems
there is excessive mining of soil components for construction in both
rural and urban development. Gravel is mixed with river sand in filling
and compacting foundations, river sand is a component of concrete in
making slab while pit sand is required for plastering buildings. River
sand is used in most mixtures because it is a strong resource which
strengthens even pit sand in plastering and makes durable bricks
Sand is a valuable resource and main
input in the construction industry in many parts of the world (Eiskine
and Green, 2000, Gob, et al, 2005). Mining excavation involves
the removal of sand from their natural configuration. Sand mining occurs
both on small and large-scale in major parts of Nigeria. It has been
observed that with an estimated 16 million housing deficit (Ezekiel
2010; lsah, 2011) and infrastructural development in Nigeria, there will
continue to be the great demand for sand and other construction
materials (Omolu and Ajakaiye, 1988). Sand mining is a practice that is
used to extract sand, mainly through an open pit. Sand is also mined from beaches, inland dunes and dredged from ocean beds and river beds.
Sand is often used in manufacturing as an abrasive, for example, and it is used to make concrete.
It is also used in cold regions to put on the roads by municipal trucks
to help during heavy rainfall and extreme weather conditions, usually
mixed with salt or another mixture to lower the freezing temperature of the road surface (have
the precipitations freeze at a lower temperature). Sand dredged from
the mouths of rivers can also be used to replace eroded coastline (Kadi,
et al., 2012).
The increasing rate of urbanization
across the globe has brought with it several challenges ranging from
physical, economic, social, to environmental among other issues (Cohen,
2006; Chelala, 2010: Kadi, et al., 2012). To cater for the
rapid urbanization, several sites are now being exploited for the
excavation of sand. Traditionally, sites for sand mining are rivers and
beaches; however, sand is mined from river months, banks and even at
inland sand deposits.
Rapid urbanization is a major cause for
the demand of sand mainly used for building construction and is
responsible for unsustainable extraction of sand from the many illegal
inland sand, mining pit, sand mining operators, citizens, and government
becomes more confrontational as a result of more sand excavation sites
located in urban and rural areas. Conflicts have centered on
environmental and social issues such as noise, truck traffic, dust,
stream water quality, reclamation, biodegradation, population and
visually unpleasant landscapes (Willis and Garrod, 1999), and the
citizens concern on the adequacy of regulatory efforts of the government
to control these negative effects.
Environmental impacts of mining are well
documented in the form of waste management, impacts of biodiversity and
habitat, deforestation of land with the consequent elimination of the
vegetation, pollution (water, air, land and even noise pollution, etc.
(Abdus-Saleque, 2008). In Nigeria and many other tropical areas sand
mining is a major cause of deforestation and forest degeneration,
generating a large number of environmental impacts (World Rainforest
Movement, 2004). It is noted that large-scale mining activities
generally continue to reduce the vegetation of most of the mining
communities to levels that are destructive to biological diversity
(Akabzaa, 2000). Davis and Tilton (2005) also suggest that local
communities tend to bear the negative impacts of mining be it social,
economical or environmental. It is therefore important to make effort to
stem these problems through informed decision-making. However, making
informed decision in many areas including monitoring sand mining
activities often involves complicated processes for optimal decision
making, information from various sources is required such as spatial
information, which is essential to address activities of sand mining and
their impacts on the environment (Burrough and McDonnell, 2O02).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Abraka and Eku are both a growing urban
centers which have experienced rapid population growth and physical
expansion especially since the early 1990s with the establishment of the
Delta State University which is situated at Abraka main town. This has
resulted to the influx of people from different parts of the state.
These in turn have exerted pressure on the needs for housing provision,
in addition to construction of roads (Akinbode and Ugbomeh, 2006).
Sand mining is a direct cause of erosion, and also impacts the local wildlife. For example, sea turtles depend on sandy beaches for their nesting, and sand mining has led to the near extinction of gharials (a species of crocodiles) in Nigeria. Disturbance of underwater and coastal sand causes turbidity in the water, which is harmful for such organisms as corals that need sunlight. It also destroys fisheries,
causing problems for people who rely on fishing for their livelihoods.
Removal of physical coastal barriers such as dunes leads to flooding of
beachside communities, and the destruction of picturesque beaches
causes tourism to dissipate. Sand mining is regulated by law in many places, but is still often done illegally (Kadi, et al., 2012).
Abraka and Eku are expanding at an
alarming rate. Expansion means growth in infrastructure, construction of
new roads, commercial malls and residential areas (Wokorach, 2002).
There is need for use of various soil components such as pit sand, river
sand and gravel from various sites surrounding the city. People seem to
be extracting these soil components excessively without considering the
impact on the environment. Most likely, there is overexploitation of
soil leaving deep pits on bare ground while rivers are widening daily.
Soil mining has become a daily sight with tipper trucks carrying pit
sand, river sand and gravel from rivers and open fields. It seems there
are no strict rules to govern soil extraction. Deep and wide pits are
left when pit sand and gravel are collected, riverbeds widen and deepen
after removing river sand, affecting aquatic while gravel removal
destroy ecosystems, forests and agricultural land (Mbaiwa, 2008). Pit
sand organisms is collected from River Ethiope, river sand is from
Ovwuvwe river while gravel is extracted from River Ethiope. There seemed
to be a problem of environmental alteration, ecosystem and agricultural
land destruction as well as riverbed and bank degradation due to
excessive removal of pit sand, river sand and gravel which prompted the
researcher to investigate the depth of these environmental impacts.
Sand and gravel were continuously
excavated along the beaches and valley of river Ethiope from Urhuoka to
Ajalomi even up to the axis of the boundary between Abraka and Eku of
the River Ethiope. Dredging equipments are seen mounted along the course
of the river that excavated the sand into piles along the River Bank.
Daily tonnes of sand are carried into the town with trucks loaded.
Contractors who cannot afford dredging machine uses locally made canoes
and shovels to scoop large amount of sand along the beds and banks of
the River. The impact of this excavation apart from acting as a source
of income to the residents, are usually very negative.
The major problems associated with sand
excavation and mining activities in Abraka-Eku region along River
Ethiope include wrong channelization of the river channel, destruction
of the riparian vegetation, degradation of the natural environment,
impact on biodiversity, pollution of water, deforestation, erosion along
the valley side slopes and disturbance of underground water and coastal
sand causing turbidity in the water, which is harmful to organisms.
Sand excavation causes degradation and severe effects on fish, causing
problems for people who rely on fishing for their livelihoods. Sand
excavation causes removal of physical coastal barriers such as dunes
thereby leading to flooding of beachside, buildings, and disrupts
tourism activities in the beaches. It is against this background that
this study is conducted to investigate these problems and find possible
ways to address the problems.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to assess the
effects of sand excavation on the environment of Abraka-Eku along
Ethiope River. In order to achieve the above stated aim, the following
specific objectives were considered;
- To identify the various sand mining/excavation sites along River Ethiope in Abraka and Eku.
- To investigate the effects of sand excavation on coastal areas where
excavation is done in Abraka-Eku region along the River Ethiope.
- To proffer solutions to the sustainability of the environment where sand excavation is going on in the area studied.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses guided the study;
- Sand excavation has no significant impact on the environment of Abraka-Eku along River Ethiope.
- Sand excavation has no significant impact on the coastal areas of the River Ethiope where excavation is done.
1.5 STUDY AREA
The study area (Abraka and
Eku) is located in Ethiope East cal Government Area of Delta and in the
Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.
1.5.1 Location and Size
River Ethiope which cuts across the two
study areas (Abraka and Eku) took its source from Umuaja in Ukwuani
L.G.A Delta State. River Ethiope is located in the South-South
geo-political zone of Southern Nigeria. Abraka is located geographically
at latitudes 050 451 to 050 501 North of the equator and longitudes 060 001 to 060 151
East of the Greenwich Meridian. Abraka is situated at the Eastern Bank
of River Ethiope in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State in
the Niger Delta region of Southern Nigeria. It is bounded to the North
by Orhionwon Local Government Area of Edo State, and to the East and in
the South and West by Ukwani Local Government Area and the Ughelli North
Local Government Area respectively. Abraka has a total area of landmass
of 168,43square kilometer.
Eku is located geographically at latitudes 050 451 to 050 051 North of the equator and longitudes 060 061 to 060 161
East of the Greenwich Meridian. Eku is bounded in the North by River
Ethiope, in west by Okpara-waterside, in the east by Abraka and in the
South by Samagidi (both in Ethiope East L.G.A of Delta State). Eku has a
total landmass of 65,8km2. The entire Ethiope East region falls under Agbon and Abraka clan which is part of the Urhoboland.