21st March, 2012
Recently, the Lagos State Government shut down Apapa Amusement Park and demolished the illegal structures in the park. The state Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit said the closure was due to the fact that the park was not being used for its original purpose.
We laud the Lagos State government for the move and we hope more of such moves would be made in the days to come.
Over the years, government utilities have been left to rot while civil servants who should prevent this look the other way. As a result, undesirables take over such places and turn the area into black spots where criminality thrives.
Apapa is just one of those places. Kuramo Beach on Victoria Island is another, Evans Square and Onala on Lagos Island are other government facilities that miscreants have taken over. The beaches in Lagos are no longer safe as miscreants demand for money or turn away tourists who want to have a good time. Most of the time, the government looks the other way or give flimsy excuses on why it neglects its facilities.
Lagos State used to be known for her parks, gardens and other relaxation spots. Over the years, some of these facilities have been given to companies to manage while others, thought to be not too viable, were abandoned and left to rot.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation belongs to the Federal Government but the railway in Lagos has been abandoned by both the federal and state governments. The environment of the rail lines have, in some places, become real problems as hoodlums, beggars and all manner of criminals have taken over these places. Some of these places have become so dangerous that only the foolhardy would dare pass through the places after dark.
It has been this bad for years and nobody has done anything concrete about it.
In Ijora-Badia and its environs, crimes thrive as armed robbers, petty criminals and teenage prostitutes live side by side in stench and squalor.
Government agencies in charge of such things seem to have shirked their responsibilities by failing to give a facelift to such places.
The edge of the Lagos lagoon, apart from the people of Egun whose traditional homes are beside the water, have also become black spots as social miscreants construct make shift bamboo structures where Indian hemp and other narcotics are freely sold.
Any open area is game and we think this has gone on for too long. Black spots emerge due to years of neglect and poor policing by the state authorities who should do it.
Lagos State Government should not allow slums develop and then dislodge the occupants. It should do something to prevent the development of places that encourage criminality to thrive.
The Apapa Amusement Park closure was a commendable move but we wonder when government would carry out demolition exercise in other similar places.
Government housing estates are also areas that should be given a closer look. The development of illegal structures and the rise in criminality in those places beg for urgent attention.