Nowhere To Go, Say Makoko Squatters


Over five thousand squatters at Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront displaced by the Lagos State Government Task Force, have cried out that they have nowhere to go, lamenting that they have been sleeping in their canoes on the lagoon since the demolition of their homes on Monday.

Government joint taskforce comprising policemen, soldiers and officials of Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, demolished their structures.

The majority of the residents of the shacks built on stilts are from Badagry, Ijaw and fishermen who migrated from neighbouring Togo and Benin Republic.

When P.M.NEWS visited the waterfront, most of the squatters were seen using machetes to cut down the stilts of their wooden homes, while policemen watched them from nearby boats.

Many of them said they did not know where to sleep nor move their belongings to, adding that they were not adequately informed about the eviction order before the commencement of the demolition exercise.

One of them, Oloishi Anago, 55, a mother of 10 said, ”I was very young when I got here. This is where I got married and gave birth to my 10 children.  One of my children was wounded when the task force people came here and started chasing us.

“I have spent over N10,000 to get him treated from the meagre income that I earned from  fish and crayfish that I sell. How do government expect us to survive now when they  did not provide an alternative for us? ” she asked.

Michael Sosu said, “If government wanted to evacuate residents of an area, they should provide an alternative. Most of us here are fishermen and how do they expect us to survive on land? As it is now, we have nowhere to go. My family and I sleep in the canoe at night,” he said.

Isidor Ediyeton, 55, who said he has been living there for over 32 years, said they were not well informed about the demolition, adding that on Saturday the Baale sent a letter to residents on the issue.

“We will remain here until we find somewhere to go. If the government decide to relocate us, we will gladly go, but now, there is no end in sight to our woes,” he said.

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Joy Alamon said, “I have three children and we’ve been living in this community for over 15 years. We’ve been hearing rumours that the state government would one day come to evict us but because no official statement was made to that effect, we paid no attention to it.

“I have a boat. So, I’ll sleep in it with my children under the Third Mainland Bridge so that we won’t be affected in case it rains. I only wish the government had provided an alternative for us.”

Ewajene Osowo said, “We understand the concern of the state government as regards safety of citizens but we appeal to them not to chase us away because we have nowhere else to go.

“I urge the government not to demolish all the structures but only the ones built 100 metres or closer to the powerline. In developed countries like Italy, there are cities built on water and maintained by the state government. Why can’t the government do the same here? There are no low cost houses anymore. I wonder where they want us to go.”

Meamwhile, the Lagos State Government says it will not relocate the evicted squatters because they are illegal occupants.

Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Mr. Adesegun Oniru asked them  to go back to where they came from as many of them are illegal immigrants.

“Should they be there at all?  The answer is no; the water body is not a fixed address for anybody. If you are to ask me what plans do we have for them, where we are relocating them to? My answer to that is that these people came from somewhere.

“They didn’t just grow up on that water and wherever it is that they came from they can easily go back to the place. That area is not a safe place for anybody to reside.”

—Kazeem Ugbodaga & Jamiu Yisa

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