Our means of livelihood have been destroyed…
Otodo Gbame fishing community protests against ongoing dredging, sand-filling of lagoon
Residents and indigenes of Otodo Gbame community, an ancestral fishing village located off MTN Project Fame Road in Lekki Phase 1, Eti-Osa Local Council of Lagos State on Wednesday besieged the Lagos State Government House to protest against what they called an ongoing life-threatening dredging and sand-filling activity in their community.
The community, led by the Baale, Hunkpe Dansu, alleged that the sand-filling and dredging activities by Destiny Dredgers’ International Ltd (DDI) in the employ of Lekki Gardens, is causing serious suffering and hardship to their people, while also threatening their way of life and existence.
Chanting solidarity songs in Yoruba, the protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as e “No to illegal Dredging;” “No to Sand-filling;” “No to Forced Eviction;” “Over 40 children have died of measles and cholera in 2016,” and “Our economic livelihood destroyed without compensation.”
In a letter presented to the governor entitled: “Urgent Appeal for Immediate Stop to Ongoing Dredging and Sand-filling threatening Otodo Gbame Community and Environs,” they appealed to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the relevant organs of government, including the Ministry of Waterfront, for an immediate stop to the ongoing dredging at the lagoon front.
According to them, the sand-filling of the lagoon and fishing grounds has caused severe hunger in their land as they no longer have money to send their children to school since their fishing activities have been affected.
“The water from the main lagoon no longer flows freely to and from the community, which is now affecting our health, leading to the outbreak of diseases that have killed many of our children. If you visit our community today, the odour from the stagnant water is unbearable for human habitation.”
Also, the Nigerian Slum and Informal Settlement Federation, in a statement, said it stands in solidarity with residents of Otodo Gbame, a community that has managed to preserve its social integrity and traditional way of life in the face of encroaching elite development of Lagos.
The federation said it welcomed the recent announcement of the Lagos State Ministry of Health in the aftermath of its response to the measles outbreak in Otodo Gbame, of its intention to map all the slums in Lagos to understand their health needs.
In his reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Habib Aruna, said there is already a government policy in dredging and the complaints by the community will be looked into.
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