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Mining and Tourism in Nigeria: The Case for The Preservation of Shere Hills (1)

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Saturday, 27 May 2017  09.45AM / @WebTVNG / Icon Picture from The Nerve Africa

Shere Hills located in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria is one of the beautiful natural landmarks and heritage sites in the country. With a range of undulating hills and rock formations, situated ten (10) kilometres to the East of Jos Metropolis.

In terms of landscape and features it has numerous high peaks, with the highest peak reaching a height of about 1,829 metres of 6,001 feet above sea level.


It therefore serves as a lovely tourist site, recreation centre, place of adventure and for some the point of spiritual renewal. Shere Hills is among the notable tourism locations in the country, like we have Olumo Rock (Ogun State), Zuma Rock (FCT), Ikogosi Waterfalls Spring (Osun State), Obudu Cattle Ranch (Cross River State), Yankari Games Reserve Park (Bauchi State), amongst others.

 


Despite the lovely gift of nature to Jos in Nigeria Shere Hills is now faced with an existential crisis, owing to the gravel quarry operations of a construction company in the area. 

For Mining operations and licenses in the country , they are granted by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals, monitored and executed by the Inspectorate Departments across the 36 States of the Federation. 

The case of “Shere Hills” in Jos, Plateau State raises concerns as to how the quarrying operations in the area was approved for Moulds Construction Company. 

According to a recent report on “Shere Hills” in Jos by Nerve Africa the operations of Moulds Construction Company has been suspended by the State Government, while the traditional ruler of the host community Afizere has been summoned after the social media outrage on the developments in the area. 

Across the globe unique and lovely tourism sites are protected through laws from encroachment or exploitation for economic activities. In the Great lake regions of Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda) despite experiencing decades of political crisis, the governments in the region ensured the mountain gorillas, who facilitated ape-related tourism were preserved by regional laws. 

 

President Barack Obama before leaving office as U.S President signed an Executive Order creating the world’s largest marine protected area covering 582,578 square miles in a bullish conservation policy. Hawaii is a strategic tourism hub in the globe.

In Indonesia, the government has strong regulations preserving the wildlife parks that has orangutans, which attracts tourists and provides revenue to the government from tourism. Also the Galapagos Islands which lies about 8,010 kilometres off its coast in Ecuador, has laws restricting movement of visitors to ensure that the sensitive environment and animal habitats are preserved.

From the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report “Tourism can significantly contribute to environmental protection, conservation and restoration of biological diversity and sustainable use of natural resources. Because of their attractiveness, pristine sites and natural areas are identified as valuable and the need to keep the attraction alive can lead to creation of national parks and wildlife parks”.

This informs the need for Nigeria to tap into the full potential of tourism development, by ensuring designated wildlife parks, nature preserves, heritage sites and tourism locations are not exploited for economic purposes.

There is a nexus between tourism and economic growth in countries like Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia, Monaco, Greece, France, Kenya, Seychelles and Mauritius leverage on this to increase their revenue and expand their economies.

For Shere Hills, the activities of Mould Construction Company, undermines the preservation of Shere Hills, which was gazetted as a wildlife reserve in 1972, protected by the wildlife animal law.  

A senior official of the Federal Ministery of Solid Minerals, who pleaded anonymity, said the Inspectorate Officer for Plateau State is investigating the case and a report will soon be out on the mining activities in “Shere Hills”. 

As we await the report, the case for the preservation of “Shere Hills” as a heritage centre and tourism zone (a part of the state and nation’s economic activities), is a vital aggregate of our aspirations and socio-economic values as a people. All stakeholders in the tourism, mining and conservatism sector must now explore the laws guarding against the current practice and take urgent remedial steps to stop mining activities on this landmark site.
 

 

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