Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Stilted homes over the water are being taken down by the government, leaving thousands homeless.
Tens of thousands of slum dwellers living in stilt-supported shacks on the lagoon on the southwestern side of Lagos, Nigeria, are being forcibly removed from their homes as government demolition crews move in to tear down the shanty village, AFP reports. A fishing village occupied mainly by migrants, the Makoko slum is situated half in the lagoon and half on land. Only the buildings stilted above the lagoon are being demolished.
Officials are targeting the slum as illegal and environmentally unsafe. With no sewers or formal infrastructure, human waste and garbage are regularly dumped directly into the lagoon, which is also the fishing area and a main economic driver for the city. Another demolition effort last August targeted 500 lagoon shanties. The current effort is expected to be more comprehensive.
As we reported recently, Lagos has recently taken the title of most populous city in Africa, with upwards of 21 million people. The city is also home to significant slum populations. An estimated 70 percent of Lagos residents live in slum areas. Makoko has been occupied for more than 100 years.
According to the Nigerian Tribune, the state government delivered eviction papers to residents in Makoko on July 12. "Notice is hereby given to you to vacate and remove all illegal developments along the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront within 72 hours," the letter read. By Monday demolition had begun.
It's not clear how many of the structures will be demolished or how many people will ultimately be affected, The exact population of the area is uncertain, but estimates range from 30,000 to 100,000. It's also unclear where all these people will go now.