The efforts of the Lagos State government to upgrade or develop slums have received applause from concerned stakeholders. And as the state gets set to enter into its full mega city status, shanties or slums obviously have no place in its scheme.
However, the government’s bold effort may be inhibited given the new shanties emerging around some urban settlements along the state’s waterfront communities, especially in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state.
Worried by the developing trend, a civil society organisation, “Safe Habitat,” has drawn the attention of the public to the environmental menace being constituted by occupants of these shanties, especially the criminal attacks against residents of Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and others.
Besides, the group warns that given the security challenge facing the nation, the situation becomes more worrisome. For instance, at some point, the country’s security apparatus was said to have warned the public to be vigilant as Boko Haram fighters and their symphatisers were planning attacks on cities like Lagos, Rivers and Kwara states.
Safe Habitat is concerned that the rate at which aliens from neighbouring countries and criminals fleeing from other parts of the country are flocking to Lagos, and creating illegal settlements in some riverine communities across the state, calls for greater attention.
One factor that has been blamed for this influx is the dearth of artisans and masons in the Nigerians construction industry. This has led to developers resorting to engaging this category of workers from the neighbouring countries.
The group, which focuses on environmental safety, in a statement by its Executive Director, Ade Williams, said the earlier government and other stakeholders take decisive action against such settlements and shanties, the better for the environment, lawful residents and business development of the area and the state as a whole.
“We recall that some concerned residents of Eti Osa had written a petition complaining of the incessant harassment, nuisance and robbery perpetrated by the occupants of the shanties at Ebute-Ikate, Elegushi. Following that, the Ikate Elegushi Residents Association also wrote another petition to the Lagos State Task Force, Alausa, Ikeja, to further complain about the unwholesome activities of the occupants of the shanties in the same community,” Williams said.
The state government, perhaps in continuation of its urban renewal programme or acting on the petition by the Residents Association, had carried out the demolition of shanties and illegal structures, both in the Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Among the illegal settlements affected was a community earlier known as “Ebute-Ikate”, but later christened “Otodo-Gbame”, a name some associated with Togo or Benin Republic origin, when the illegal settlers came to the community.
A community leader, Chief Abdualhi Ajibola, explained that while the ‘settlers in the shanties’ have since gone to court, he is happy that the government has taken the best step by restoring sanity to the area.
He recalled that sometimes in September 2014, a fight broke out at the shanties at Ebute Ikate, Ikateland between rival groups of Delta/Eastern extraction on the one hand and their Egun counterpart.
An environmentalist, Tajudeen Osho, is worried that these settlers, mainly young and able bodied men, do not speak either English or pidgin, while some who speak Hausa may not really be people of northern extinction.
“But fact remains that they cohabit with Hausas, in the markets and Sabo areas. They come to Lagos in their hundreds on monthly if not weekly basis, without any means of accommodation, employment, or sustenance and within few weeks, many of them will be mixing freely in the neighbourhoods without anybody asking questions.
Culled from The Nation Newspapers