Residents of Makoko, a waterfront in Lagos State, on Tuesday appealed to the state government to be lenient with them in its decision to demolish illegal structures in the community.
A leader in the community, Mr Ewajane Osowo, said that the demolition would be too costly for the residents.
The state government has earmarked 200 shanties in the community for demolition.
Osowo, Secretary, Ilaje Crayfish and Fishermen Association of Nigeria, said that the exercise would render many of the residents homeless.
Osowo said that the community, with a population of about 250,000, had contributed much to the economic development of the state.
He called on the government to construct bridges to connect the community with some other communities.
Osowo also urged the government to provide schools and potable water for the residents.
“We are about 250,000 residing in this community, but there is no public utility such as schools and health centres to justify our relevance to the government,” Osowo said.
Another community leader, Mr David Shenmed, alleged that the government gave the community only three days’ notice to vacate the affected structures.
He said that the notice was too short to enable relocation of the affected residents.
``We all know how difficult it is to get accommodation in Lagos,” Shenmed said.
Reacting, Mr Akin Ogunlana, the Head of Operations of the Lagos State anti-indiscipline outfit, Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), said that the demolition was to check environmental nuisance and reduce security risks.
He added that many shanties in the community were an impediment to the state’s economic growth.
Ogunlana said the state government is desirous of restoring the value of the waterfront, protect life and property, promote legitimate economic activities and restore security and improve water transportation.
“It is on this basis that the government decided to clear all illegal and unauthorised developments on its waterfront and water bodies,” Ogunlana said.
He said that the government was committed to the wellbeing of its populace and would not do anything that would be detrimental to the people.