More than 200 evicted inhabitants of the Kuramo Beach have poured into the streets, saying they have nowhere to go after they were abruptly ordered out the shore where they had resided and engaged in petty trading.
The ejected inhabitants said they started residing on the shoreline in 1999 when Nigeria hosted the All African Games, an event which opened the opportunity for them to sell various commodities to visiting foreigners at a profit. They maintained that they had since then continued to inhabit the place and done their petty businesses for survival and residence.
Thirteen years after, however, a fatal surge of the Atlantic Ocean brought their abode and business-for-survival center to the limelight and led to their ejection.
The commercial residents of the Kuramo beach, which lies side-by-side with the Bar beach, were ejected from the coastline by the Lagos State Government following the recent fatal surge of the Atlantic Ocean which claimed more than 16 lives after a high magnitude tidal wave of the Bar Beach flowed over its borderline, forcing down its boundary with the Kuramo Beach and destroying several properties. The ejected inhabitants however said they are now pouring into the streets, with nowhere to go.
Abbey Edwards was the secretary to the Security Unit watching over the Kuramo beach before the unexpected ocean surge which led to their unexpected ejection. Abbey, a graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, said it was a huge shock to him that the State Government visited the beach after the surge and sent the inhabitants packing when he had expected the State Government to sympathize with them and offered help to the affected inhabitants.
Abbey said the ejected inhabitants consisted of people who had no homes, those out of school without jobs, those without parents and who cannot afford school fees, displaced people and youths struggling for survival with petty businesses. He stressed that they had organized themselves and made the place both a commercial place and a home.
“I’m so shocked that the State Government can do this to us. The Local Government Chairman knows us very well and he often comes here to relate with us as a father”, he said.
The former Secretary to the Security unit on the beach said they had at various times done jobs for the police by rounding up criminals at the beach and handing them over to the police.
“They also used us to mobilize people for votes in the last elections and we did greatly for them even at serious risks to our lives. We played a very significant role in the entire Eti-Osa area to make sure they won election but it is now that they can call us nuisance”, complained Abbey.
Another evictee suggested that the multi-million dollars Eko Atlantic project on the ocean front was to complement the business interest of the Eko Hotel.
“They just feel that our being here is not befitting enough for the rich people they are bringing to their Eko Atlantic City under construction and they had been looking for excuses to send us out of this place before the ocean surge. They want to sand-fill the place where we have been removed so that they can protect their business at the Eko Hotel”, he alleged.
Recounting their stay at the Kuramo beach, Abbey lamented that the dearth of jobs in the city had caused him and others ejected alongside to resort to petty commercial activities on the coastline.
“Now that they have thrown us out of this place without caring about our livelihood after removing us from here, what do they expect us to do next?”
Abbey said some of their achievements on the shoreline, apart from assisting the police in their jobs was making the Kuramo beach the only beach in West Africa that is open 24 hours a day.
He suggested that such haphazard ejection of people by the State without bothering about what happens to those affected people by such a policy is responsible for the increase in crime in the society.
“I know many guys here that, it is through my bringing them together and re-orientating them that had transformed them a little. Now that they have been scattered, they’ll return to the streets and you can guess that is how the State breeds criminals by itself”, Abbey suggested.
“I have helped most of them discover their talents and some of them are upcoming music stars but their dreams have now been shattered by the personal interest of the state administrators who only want to please the few rich people. I tell you, some of them may become worse than Boko Haram”, he declared, frowning.
He lamented that some of the young men, whose names he gave as Olorunwa Babatunde, Joseph Oke and Benson, died while trying to rescue some of the children who were being swept away by the ocean surge.
Another evictee from Kuramo Beach declined to talk, maintaining a bold face while smoking sticks of weeds one after the other, staring absent-mindedly into the sky. Suddenly, he stood up, shook his head and walked away.
Activities however continue at the Bar beach with the regular Aladura people visiting to pray and others relaxing and having fun.
The Chief Security Officer of the Kuramo Beach activities arena alleged that the Eko Atlantic Project was hugely responsible for the fatality of the recent surge.
“The surge is a familiar thing to us here every year. It is nothing new to us because we know about this time every year the water level rises, but this particular one that killed people was too high and everybody knows it is as a result of the Eko Atlantic project”, he alleged.