By Michael Oyetunji
Mpape crushed rock, one of Abuja’s finest attractions for picnic and other recreational activities is currently under threat of insecurity and harassment of fun lovers. According to a recent experience by some sustainable tourism experts and SDG advocates who visited the site to mark the 2021 International Earth Day, hoodlums have taken over the entire space to harass and extort unsuspecting visitors.
In Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Mpape crushed rock is a major tourist site, which initially was a quarry site from where building stones were being supplied. After a while, site workers struck an aquifer: an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, and it was closed down. But in recent times, Mpape crushed rock became a popular site for Abuja residents due to the beautiful scenery of lake and high cliff it affords, for hiking and picnic purposes.
However, not much is left to be desired of the site as the vicinity now harbors criminal minds and hoodlums who harass unsuspecting visitors and threaten to harm them. It was gathered that a team of sustainable tourism experts and SDG advocates, who visited to the site to conduct a tourism & sustainability assessment in commemoration of the 2021 International Day of the Earth at the site, escaped by a hairs breadth as hoodlums launched an assault on their convoy after ripping them off monies.
Speaking with the coordinator of the team, Captain Emmanuel LordsGreat, CEO, TBS Africa, “we were eager to have fun and celebrate nature, based on the wonderful stories we heard of the Mpape Crushed site, and I in particular was very elated to physically see this wonderful site which I have seen so much in pictures”, he stated. Another participant, who pleaded anonymity also confirmed that they paid their way through to the site by some funny looking guys who claimed to be the security of the environment, but were harassed by another set of hoodlums, and finally chased away by another batch of miscreants.
“Such a scenario, as we witnessed yesterday, is not good for the sustainability of domestic tourism, seeing the potentials such a site has to offer”, said Captain LordsGreat. “Coincidentally, we came here to conduct a tourism sustainability assessment of the site, so we will be publishing a detailed report of our sustainability outlook for this place in the coming days. Government needs to secure this site, and make it safe for visitors, as we don’t have much of such places in the FCT. Tourists should not be subjected to such extortion, fear or harassment.”
Upon further investigation and speaking with some officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency, who pleaded anonymity, it was gathered that after conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), it has been recommended that the site be closed. According to the EIA, the crushed rock site which was used for quarry and mining activities in the past poses a safety risk to tourists, as well as residents of the area due to possible tectonic land shifts which could cause possible dangers to tourist and settlers alike.
Tourism as we believe, is life. It becomes the opposite when insecurity of lives is involved. The tourism sector therefore calls on appropriate authorities to look into the situation and save the environment, thus ensuring the safety of other visitors in the near future.
Michael Oyetunji, a tour operator and media professional writes from Abuja as the Editor-in-Chief of The Winepress Station
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