Lagos 'Cleans Up' Its Waterfront, Leaving Thousands Homeless

Continuing a practice long decried by international rights groups, Nigerian authorities gave the residents of the waterfront shantytown of Makoko a scant 72 hours to vacate their homes before demolishing them en masse, reports Robyn Dixon.

It sounds as if authorities in what recently became the largest city in Africa won't let the city's slum dwellers stand in the way of progress. In what Dixon calls, "just the latest of many evictions of poor and marginalized communities in shantytowns as slum dwellers come under increasing pressure from property developers," authorities in Lagos began demolishing the Makoko shantytown a week ago.

According to Dixon, "This is not the first attempt to wipe out Makoko. Similar demolitions and evictions took place in 2005. In a notice of eviction earlier this month, Lagos authorities called the shantytown 'unwholesome' and out of keeping with Lagos' 'megacity status.' Lagos Gov. Babatunde Fashola said there were plans to build something much grander."

"'We have a plan to turn that place into the Venice of Africa. I am committed to the idea,' he told protesters from Makoko on Monday, ruling out any reversal of the demolition order, Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper reported."

"The latest demolitions have left thousands homeless, many with nowhere to sleep but in their canoes, resident Peter Hunsa told the Nation newspaper."

"'I am more than 60 years old,' he said. 'I was born in this community. The Egun people have been living here for more than 100 years.'

'Where do they want me to go now?' he said. 'We are fishermen. We did not go to school.'"

Full Story: Demolition of Nigerian shantytown leaves thousands homeless

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