This Is Lagos – a Glorified Slum!
As much as partisan political operatives would stop at nothing in praise of Lagos state, the reality is that this commercial seaport at the extreme western end of the country’s Atlantic coastline is an emblem of shame for the Black man. What the average visitor or resident of Lagos encounters, from traffic logjams to heavily potholed highways, leave such a bitter taste that many often swear never to have anything to do with that city again. Decades ago, flooding in waterlogged neighborhoods used to be seen in parts of Ikate-Surulere, Orile-Iganmu, etc., especially in the mid rainy season. Flooding has now shifted to downtown districts and the high-brow residential and commercial neighborhoods of Victoria Island, Apapa and the Lekki Peninsula. In fact, no part of today’s Lagos is spared from flooding. This is the month of May and the rainy season is still in its infancy. But the images recorded in this video after a single downpour make one to feel like the Biblical deluge has descended in Nigeria’s premier commercial hub.
The imagery in this video conveys the notion of a country and a people who cannot even help themselves in coping with the basic necessities of life. The most pathetic of all is that access to the wharves of the seaports serving the metropolis and rest of the country is not spared. For a country whose economy is entirely dependent on imported goods, deep seaport facilities act as a lifeline for the sustenance of the country’s 200 million people. Billions of naira worth of revenue are earned monthly by the government as duties paid by merchants that use the wharf facilities. The reason for the failure to develop and maintain the road-transportation infrastructure is, therefore, not due to a shortage of cash flow. It is rather due to massive corruption by the politicians and bureaucrats that run the government. The other side of the coin is the local population which, somehow, tolerates the incompetencies of those in positions of authority in Lagos state, in particular and rest of the country, in general.
As at now, Lagos has two functional seaports at Apapa and Tin-can Island harbors. A third deep seaport is already in an advanced state of construction in Badagry, next-door to the sprawling megacity. With the current level of disorder and traffic logjam in the vicinity of the two existing ports, one can only imagine what mayhem shall follow the opening up of the third seaport in Badagry. In the meantime, all the alternative deep harbors of Nigeria’s Eastern Atlantic coastline remain shuttered as a matter of government policy. This idiotic policy was put in place in the post-civil war era by military rulers who regarded the shuttering of the Eastern ports as a punitive measure to cripple the local economy of indigenous populations who had supported Biafra secession more than 50 years ago. Lagos was the lone seaport approved by the government to handle all Nigeria’s importation since the Civil War. The country’s population has more than doubled since then, but All container-carrying ships destined for Nigeria MUST still go to Lagos and nowhere else.
Lagos is indeed a hopeless case. For a megacity that has an estimated population of 20 million or more, it is a major lapse that there is no drainage system built to handle stormwater runoff generated from all parts of the metropolis. During rainstorms, which are commonplace in Southern Nigeria’s rainy season, stormwater has no other place to go than into commercial and residential neighborhoods or spill into the streets and roadways as seen in this video. To correct this major booboo is never going to be a cakewalk since the metro area is already too congested with no free space left for the construction of new sewerage infrastructure.
That Lagos finds itself in this quagmire cannot be said to be karmic. Present-day Lagosians, who are bearing the brunt of the mess at hand, have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the policies that pigeonholed the totality of Nigeria’s importation into a single seaport neither are they responsible for the massive diversion of revenues generated from the Lagos wharves by the Nigeria Customs. Those responsible for the gross mismanagement and plunder live in faraway Abuja or other more conducive climes in the hinterland. They are now safe and secure in places and locations where the karmic payback for their evil deeds cannot reach them. Former President Obasanjo is reputed to have played a significant role in the rustication of seaport facilities of the East, for example, but his current residence is nowhere near Lagos.