Thousands of villagers in Makoko will be affected. The justification by officials is that the stilt structures were built without permission, and that they are insanitary, and it is true that this is one of the many slum areas in Lagos. However, while the conditions are in need of great improvement, the stilt shacks are home to many people who have an established way of life there, the children going to school, the wives selling goods in the market and the men fishing in the lagoon. They were given only 72 hours notice to leave, without advice or help on where to go – an action that was totally negative and lacking any compassion, affecting as many as 100,000 people.
It is no coincidence, perhaps, that the stilt shacks away from the waterfront are unaffected by the demolition, only those on the lagoon itself, and, since the lagoon is important as a key economic driver for Lagos, I wonder if the destruction of the community is a form of social cleansing in order to improve its money-making potential.
Whatever the reason, and however justified or not, the government of Lagos and its enforcers are treating one of their communities, in need of support anyway, with heartlessness, making an existing problem worse by their actions, indeed, creating another one. The officials forget that there, but for the grace of God, go they…or you and I. How would you feel if you were in Makoko now? Who cares?]]>