- Title: NIGERIA: Anguish as authorities demolish Lagos Makoko slum
- Date: 17th July 2012
- Summary: VARIOUS OF BELONGINGS PACKED INSIDE A BOAT WIDE SHOT OF MAKOKO
- Embargoed: 1st August 2012 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAA7549Q13GUL3ZXZWG0QTYCR7
- Story Text: Former residents of one of Lagos' largest slums were left to pick up the pieces of their lives on Tuesday (July 17) a day after Nigerian authorities demolished the sprawling shanty built on top of a lagoon in the country's commercial capital.
Makoko slum was home to nearly 100,000 people, mainly fishermen, sand harvesters and timber traders who lived in shacks built on stilts.
Early on Monday, officials from the Lagos state authorities armed with power saws, machetes and petrol razed the wooden shacks as shocked residents watched helplessly. Most of the slum dwellers said they were unprepared for the action even though officials said residents had been given 72 hours notice to evacuate the area.
"I came back and found the kids were missing and some things had been thrown into the water. Up till now I am still looking for some kids," said one distraught mother, Anzingi Janet.
Makoko is probably one of the best known slums in Nigeria after it featured in a 2010 BBC film, "Welcome to Lagos" which angered government officials who felt the film had depicted only the negative side of the city. Since then, access by the media to the slum had been closely monitored.
Residents who have lost their homes said they had nowhere to go and pleaded with the government for assistance.
A government official who led the demolition team on Tuesday refused to comment but said residents were free to take their complaints to the authorities.
"I am under a directive, the only person that can tell you what is going on here is the commissioner for water front," he said.
Makoko slum was easily visible from Lagos' longest bridge which connects the mainland to the city's business district. The slum was favoured by first time job seekers in Lagos but for others like Pascal Agosu, an International Relations university student, Makoko had been their home since childhood. He accused the authorities of disregarding human rights.
"Now the question is if government want to make use of this place, why can't government inform these people officially or does that mean these people they are no people at all," he said Officials say the demolition is part of the government's efforts to clean up the city. The Lagos government says the commercial capital is set to experience a demographic explosion over the next decade, and anticipates a population that could reach 40 million from the current 16 million.
The city is also expanding its roads, water-ways and is constructing several light railways to ease traffic congestion.
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