Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community

Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community

4 mins read

Like many underdeveloped riverine areas, a visit to Ebute-Ilaje Community in Bariga Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, reveals the poor standard of living of the people and the inevitable health implications due to environmental hazards.

With the horrible stench pervading the area, oozing from refuse dumps in the surroundings, coupled with the blocked drainage channels, one could tell that hygiene is below average standards set for residential areas by health authorities.

During a visit to the community, Prime Business Africa correspondent observed that most of the shanties constructed by settlers were built on heaps of refuse piled up over the years. As the correspondent walked around to observe the area, one could notice the ground bouncing while navigating through piles of rubbish.

Some of the residents who spoke to Prime Business Africa lamented that they lack access to clean water and there is also no standard healthcare facility in the area.

Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community

Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community

One of them who identified herself as Yemi said they buy water from peddlers popularly called ‘Meruwa’ at a costly rate used mainly for cooking and washing, not for drinking as it is not clean.

“There is no clean water here, which is very important for survival. We suffer so much for it. Water is really a challenge for us. We pay from N800 to N1,000 for a full truck (which contains ten jerrycans),” said Yemi.

“The water does not even serve a household for a whole day,” said a middle-aged man reclining on a large sack containing plastic waste materials.

This correspondent sighted one health facility newly built which they said is privately owned and is yet to open.

Another resident who craved anonymity lamented bitterly that the environmental condition in the area makes many vulnerable to certain illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, and Diarrhea.

In one of the streets called Alhaji Yunusa, there is an ongoing construction, (though currently on hold), with drainage channels built on the sides. However, according to some of the residents, it will not get to the end to connect the nearby river.

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One of the excos of the Ebute Ilaje Community Development Association, Remi Moses, who spoke to Prime Business Africa, said the drainage channels will have no effect when the road construction project is completed because the pile of refuse in the surroundings would block the flow of water into the river and even lead to flooding which they are trying to prevent in the first place. “They are building drainage to eliminate flood that is yet to happen but the thing that could cause that to happen is already here under our noses (referring to the refuse heaps). This is irrespective of the health hazards,” Moses, who is the treasurer of the CDA stated.

“When I spoke with the company in charge of the road construction, I asked them why they are not doing the drainage down to the river, they said that at first, they felt they could do so but going by the budget now, and looking at the depth of the waste, it is not possible. They said that even if they were to excavate, they wouldn’t be able to do so because what it would cost to fix that place is more than what it takes for the entire project and wasn’t part of the budget.

“But obviously, they can’t build only drainage without constructing the road,” he stated.

Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community
A truck pusher hauling refuse to the dump site

 

Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community
One of those gathering plastic wastes, walking past sacks containing Plastic bottles about to be sold. Photo: Prime Business Africa

Shanties On Waste Dumps: Sad Tales Of Ebute-Ilaje Community According to him, the road construction started in January and was suspended in February shortly before the general election and resumed again in May, but now on hold. So, far only the drainage channels are being constructed.

Moses called on the government to intervene to change the environment for the sustainable livelihood of the people there. While expressing concern that the government’s intervention might lead to displacement of the residents, he said the best thing to do is resettle them somewhere not outright displacement.

Ironically, as unsustainable as the environment seems, many of the residents have turned the refuse dump sites into a business venture as they scavenge and gather waste plastic materials and sell to companies that recycle them for other industrial uses.

There is also a group of men who collect levies from truck pushers who come to dispose refuse there. According to one of those who regularly disposes of refuse at the site, they collect from N500 and above per drop depending on the size of the load.

The situation of the community constantly attracts the attention of nongovernmental organisations, who visit every year to carry out sensitization programmes, medical outreach and deliver welfare packages to relieve the harsh conditions of the residents.

This year’s December 30, Gerbera Care Foundation, an NGO that supports the welfare and the health of the girl child as well as children and women in marginalized community, plans to conduct its medical outreach programme tagged “Ripple 2.0.”

The NGO had in the past carried out various humanitarian activities towards improving the wellbeing of people in marginalized communities in Lagos such as health awareness campaigns, skill acquisition and empowerment of young people.

According to the group, Ripple 2.0 is a continuation of Ripple 1.0, a Medical and welfare project, that started last year and benefited over 250 girls and women in a marginalized community in Lagos State. It said: “Ripple 2.0 which is a continuum of a small change ripple effect, enormous impact, the foundation set in motion last year which focuses on medical and welfare outreach to a marginalized community.”

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The programme would also involve medical examination by medical experts, distribution of antimalaria drugs, and mosquito nets, sensitization of residents on health matters and hygiene standards.

Benedict Oshilaja, a former Chairman of Ebute Ilaje CDA, who will host the Gerbera Care Foundation for the medical outreach programme, expressed gratitude to NGOs that have been coming to identify with the community.

“The activities of NGOs in this area have been very impactful. People are happy and they want them to come again and again. We are grateful for all those that have been coming here,” Oshilaja, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God branch in the community stated.

 

 

Correspondent at Prime Business Africa | + posts

Victor Ezeja is a passionate journalist with six years of experience writing on economy, politics and energy. He holds a Masters degree in Mass Communication.

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