Sunday, 19 December 2010

Bursting at the seams.. Lagos

Perhaps the era of climate change refugees is already upon us.. You may also see the video here on the Community Channel website..


CodLiverOil said...

No doubt Lagos is grossly over-populated, to make matters worse the standard of living is very low as witnessed by the fact that Lagos ranks in the world's worst 5 cities in which to live.

Click here

Difficult decisions need to be made:
1) Control migration to Lagos state.
2) Other states should work on developing their state capitals. (Reducing the pull factor of Lagos and spreading development more evenly).
3) Family planning will need to be embraced more widely.

According to My Opeyami Bamidele, population is not an issue. There is no awareness of the need to preserve the environment. What a lethal combination for destruction.

I can't view the video clip where I am. It has been blocked due to copyright reasons.

Anengiyefa said...

Hello CodLiverOil, its unfortunate that you cant view rhe video on YouTube. Its too good to miss. Perhaps you could try the Community Channel website here:

(Sorry I don't know how to do the HTML thing, so just copy/cut and paste the link..)

Much of what you've said is true, save for the fact that migration to Lagos is fuelled not only by populations from the hinter regions of Nigeria, but from right across West Africa, even right up to Mauritania.

Seeing as the resulting conditions of Lagos's overcrowded slums are as appalling as they are, I can't bear to think what the conditions must have been in the home areas of those who migrate to Lagos.

In the film, there are two (obviously qualified) teachers originally from the Republic of Benin who are working in a Lagos slum, Makoko, a slum which has been built entirely of wooden shacks on stilts, standing out over a very dirty lagoon. Only by canoe is it possible to travel through this slum and it can't be hard to imagine the overpowering smell of human and other waste.

Yet despite these conditions, these two young teachers have consider a life in Makoko to be preferable to life back in their country. And there must be countless others in the same situation. So, as bad as Lagos is, it is still the most economically active place in Nigeria and indeed the whole of West Africa, and the place to which those in search of greener pastures will flock.

Lagos has a lot to be said in its favour. But I think that the environmental threat needs to be taken more seriously. For when disaster strikes, the full impact of the failure to enforce building regulations, etc will become apparent, but only too late. They are building homes right up to the water's edge, ie. the beach front of the Atlantic Ocean. It comes down to the fact that generally, Nigerians are not inclined to take a long-term view in their affairs. I won't be surprised if in two decades the whole of low-lying Victoria Island and Lekki (both previously marshland that was reclaimed by sandfilling), is lost to the sea, yet building work is carrying on with no thought of the potential consequences of projected sea-level rise

CodLiverOil said...

Many thanks for the link. I still run into the same problem, this copyright issue. Nevermind.

True, you are right, I hadn't considered people from all over the ECOWAS region migrating to Lagos. Maybe with the growth of Ghana (and the addition of crude oil to the already healthy Ghanaian economy), they (ECOWAS citizens) will move to Accra.

For sure, Nigeria's government will have wake up to the challenges of the 21st century that lie before them, sooner or later. Sound planning and proper regualation are the key. Building cities (or prestige projects to be more accurate ie Eko City) on the water's edge in an age of unpredictable sea-level rise and unforeseen weather conditions, is unwise to say the least. Do they have any sea defences capable to stemming tidal surges?

Will the federal authorities wake up and take action, probably not. They only send representatives to foreign meetings to try and prize as much money out of the developed world under the guise of "protecting the environment", when a large proportion of what little is given is sauntered away into private accounts and pockets.

If the federal government is weak on environmental issues, you can only imagine that at the state level there is even less consciousness. We can see that in the lack of provision for sanitation, clean drinking water (ie cities that have adequate rainfall are facing a shortage of water) and the disposal of waste, be it domestic or industrial.

I remember Makoko, on my former visits, we'd be in a taxi or some other vehicle commuting between the Mainland and Victoria island, and I remember looking out the window at such a grim looking place. There was black smoke coming from there also, a really uninviting place. The council flats in Peckham were never that grim, by any measure...

Anengiyefa said...

CodliverOil, LOL @ council flats in Peckham...

Well, those council flats are in Peckham in south London, whereas Makoko is actually an unwanted and unwelcome shanty town that is clinging to life beside an already overcrowded and lumbering Lagos. These two places might was well be on two different planets, lol. Its as if Lagos didn't already have enough problems of it's own to deal with..

The slum that you saw located off Victoria Island could have been Maroko, which was demolished years ago and its inhabitants forcibly expelled. Makoko (the names are similar) probably will suffer the same fate at some point, but herein lies my main concern..

The authorities in Nigeria do not seem to understand that the well-being of every citizen is their responsibility, yes, including the poor inhabitants of Makoko and countless other shanty towns scattered all over the country.

With Maroko, they kicked out the inhabitants, seized the land and sand-filled it with sand dredged from the nearby sea, then divided it up into plots and sold the plots to those who could afford them. And you can guess that none of the former residents of Maroko featured in this land grab. Nobody seemed to care what happened to them and any attempt by the Lagos State government at the time to offer resettlement was mere tokenism..

Indeed, the entire Lekki Peninsula, which is such a choice area in Lagos today is low-lying land that was reclaimed by sand-filling. And all of this was done without making the necessary arrangements for pipe borne water to be distributed through out the area, as you would expect would be the case in any society where planning is taken seriously.

The culture of lack-of-planning and maladministration in Nigeria is so deep rooted that I fear that those whose responsibility it is to deal with the potential consequences of the world's changing climate will utterly fail. And this worries me because Lagos, like many other of the world's cities will be very severely affected by a sea-level rise of any description. Yet unlike other cities, no preparations are being made to tackle the problem, instead the city seems to be exposing itself further to potential damage and loss (of life and of property) by citing important buildings close to the sea..

Given this knowledge, perhaps those who migrate to Lagos might have a rethink..

CodLiverOil said...

Sorry about the mix up between Makoko and Maroko, but you get my drift (I was a teenager at the time)

Whenever the international community ever talks about the environment and wants to cite an example of bad management in the third world, Nigeria is always used as a case in point to warn other developing nations as to the consequences of environmental neglect. We have desertification gaining ground in the north, oil and gas pollution in the Niger Delta and now overcrowding gripping Lagos state.

Such a bad reputation has been pinned to Nigeria, but yet authorities there are oblivious to the consequences of sound environmental management and planning. It is seen as something as a play thing for the Western world.

C'est moi said...

Hello Anengiyefa, not able to comment on this post as i've never lived in Lagos,and never really liked that place anyway & what i'd heard previously about it.

Although now i'm told the new governor seems to be doing & accomplishing a lot in the state!

On a slightly unrelated note ( but related as it still pertains to motherland :) ) , have you heard of this? Its been making the rounds recently & apparently there's a lot of campaign & concerted effort to stop the sale of the Benin artefacts by Sothebys of London.

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year in advance my friend!

Anengiyefa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anengiyefa said...

Hi C'est Moi,

Well if "accomplishing a lot" is defined as planting flowers in public spaces, creating designated bus lanes to ease traffic and harrassing illegal street traders, then perhaps Governor Fashola is accomplishing a lot.

My view however, is that what Governor Fashola is said to be doing in Lagos, is what any governor of any state ought to be doing in any event. To my mind, it is by no means extraordinary.

The fact remains that despite the flowers and the bus lanes, the majority of the inhabitants of the Lagos metropolitan area do not have access to mains pipe borne water; housing for more than one half of the population is grossly inadequate and at least 70% of the population continue to live below the poverty line.

Nigeria is the only country I know of where it is the norm for each household to individually supply its own electricity, privately, by way of a very noisy petrol/diesel driven electricity generator. Noise levels are unrivalled anywhere in the world..

The country is a major oil producing and exporting nation, yet something as basic as adequate healthcare is unavailable to a large segment of the population, (with emphasis on the word "adequate"). The consequences of the failure by the country's successive leaders to invest in the country's population gets more glaring day by day..

All of Nigeria's leaders should be ashamed of the state in which the country is in. I would be embarrassed to be named as a leader of any description in today's Nigeria..