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Shere Hills under Threat

Shere Hills under Threat

The impressive array of hills and canyons is a tourist attraction. For now it is an untapped resource which many say is capable of yielding immense financial revenue for both the state and Federal Government. But another group however is desirous of making hay while the sun shines, as far as the huge potentials of these undulating hills is concerned. And they have taken steps in the direction of making money from the hills. This group are rock blasting companies who have moved their massive excavation equipment  and tools to the base of the mountains. This has not gone down too well with the natives, and many other lovers of this ancient mountainous range.

A resident, Bulus Theophilus, attests to the fact that many people are not particularly happy that the rocky potentials of their hills which represent  their glorious past ,is being tapped into serially by profit minded outfits who look beyond its cultural potential. ‘These hills are our life. Many of us grew up playing on the surface and atop the hills, and it really represents glorious memories for us. A typical native would defend these hills from invaders, even with the last ounce of his or her strength. It therefore pains us to see some of these hills reduced to slabs and dust due to pecuniary gains. Even if the government wants to make money through the hills, there are other ways it could do that especially through tourism. But with the way things are going now it won’t be surprising to see more and more companies coming in to blast these rocks soon. It is traumatic for us,’ he says

Alex Akinnusi, a senior instructor at the Shere hills Mountain School, says that unless the government moderates the commercial activities going on around the hills, a huge tourism potential and natural icon may soon be lost. He adds also that the government should deploy all its resources into making Shere hills a hotspot for Nigerians and foreigners alike. He enthuses ‘many do not know the true value of these hills. It is only those who have had the opportunity of accessing its vast land and rocky surfaces ,such as our instructors and trainees, that really know the beauty and tourism potentials it stands for. Nowadays,  with this rock blasting activity, its beauty is being eroded. For one thing with the violent rock blasting going on, the numerous caves that can be found on the hills will start closing up. It will become more difficult for potential tourists and rock climbers who besiege the hills regularly to access the top of the hills, which for them is always an exhilarating experience. Some of the more fragile rocky points both on the surface and on top of the hills, will also be affected negatively. The really disturbing aspect of it will be the gradual decimation of the massive and beautifully crafted boulders, many of which is always an interesting sight to behold. To be frank the overall effect of the rock blasting going on will have a largely negative effect on the fate of Shere hills.

Another instructor, Musa Itse, who is an indigene, goes down memory lane when asked about the hills, its origins and cultural representation. ‘These hills especially the Gog and Magog hills are an heritage as far as the common native here is concerned. The reasons are numerous but can be itemised as follows: historical, sociological and philosophical. It holds paramount significance for all the indigenes. The hills though dangerous are very interesting to behold. One thing we would never allow is to see anybody messing with the mountains. It is our pride and we always hold it in high esteem. We don’t mind seeing people using the mountains for recreational or tourism purposes, but when it is being destroyed by other people we resent this, and always restrain such people from their activities.’

At the base of the mountain range are already blasted pieces of rocks set for conveyance to their final destination. A few of the blasting equipment  used for work is seen littered on the grounds ,but there are no workers in sight. A resident informs the reporter that work on the site had been disrupted for quite a while, due to a pending case in court between the government and some of the blasting companies ,over rights to the rocks. The information however could not be independently verified. Nyam Joyce, a tourist at the sight equally urges the government to employ reasonable means to preserve the rocks as they represent an innate beauty that cannot be quantified. ‘I was unprepared for what I saw when I came here. It is impressive and am actually lost for words. These hills are a sight to behold any day. In my own estimation they should be preserved for tourism purposes and should not be destroyed for whatever reason.’

Online records describe the Shere Hills as ‘a range of undulating hills and rock formations on the Plateau, situated about 10 kilometres to the east of Jos metropolis, the capital of Plateau State in the middle belt region of Nigeria. The Shere Hills have numerous high peaks, with the highest peak reaching a height of about 1,829 metres/6,001 feet above sea level, the Shere Hills are the highest point of the Jos Plateau and they form the third highest point in Nigeria after Chappal Waddi on the Mambilla Plateau averaging about 2,419 metres/7,936 feet above sea level and Mount Dimlang (Vogel peak) on the Shebshi Mountains reaching a height of about 2,042 metres/6,699 feet above sea level.’ It also adds: ‘this is one of Plateau’s highest peaks and most rugged, and offers unrivalled opportunities to the mountain climbers and lovers of adventure. It is about 10 kilometres to the East of Jos. The Hills serve as a camping spot to the Citizenship and Leadership Training centre.’

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