SLUMS, especially the ones in Lagos, are glorified death traps. Studies have shown that the Centre of Excellence (Lagos) has about 42 of them, most of which could be found in the metropolis. All the slums are on land except the Makoko-Sogunro slums, which are on water, says a World Bank study. One of the 42 slums identified by the study is the dreaded Ijora-Badia slum.
ENCOMIUM Weekly visited the place on Thursday, February 3, 2011 and Sunday, February 6, 2011. His report…
BETWEEN IJORA BADIA AND IJORA-OLOYE
These two high density communities, Ijora Badia and Ijora-Oloye, are under the Apapa-Iganmu local government area of the state. However, there is one thing that separates the two communities, that is development. Already, Ijora-Oloye is undergoing transformation because of government presence. But, the development in Ijora Badia, has been on hold for a long time.
Residents of Ijora Badia are predominantly Aworis. We have it on good authority that it was the Ilaje immigrants from Ondo State that first occupied the place several years ago. An Islamic scholar, Ustadh Akeem, who has his Arabic school in the area stated that the first Baale of Ijora Badia was an Ilaje man, followed by an Awori and since then, Awori have always been the Baale.
Ijora Badia has today attracted several immigrants from different parts of the country and even beyond. Among them are the Hausa who have their catchments area in Ijora while others, especially from Kwara, Edo, Oyo and Ogun States constitute the largest population. Ijora Badia is densely populated yet people from other parts of the country, even from our neighbouring West African countries, especially artisans from Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic besiege it.
There is no predominant occupation in Ijora Badia unlike Makoko Sogunro where the residents are into fishing. What thrives here mostly is merchandising, particularly domestic products like soap, buckets, drinks, food stuff, soup condiments, clothes, etc. Open air market is a great advantage for the residents to display their merchandise. The Hausa residents have monopoly of the ram market.
ENCOMIUM Weekly learnt that prostitution is also the order of the day and it’s very, very lucrative in Ijora Badia. That is why girls, who are jobless, earn their living from the job. Dirty brothels are located at Oju-irin (railway), otherwise known as Ghana village. When we visited the area in the evening, we saw dozens of sex hawkers flaunting their endowments. The area, we learnt, is one of the dangerous places in the areas. Charlatans and miscreants, known as area boys, also live a lawless life here.
Housing in Ijora Badia, at the moment, is in a sorry state. More pathetic than what we saw in Makoko, Sogunro slums. Shanties, regarded as houses, are built on the canal with wood and roofing sheets. A visit to a place called ‘White Sand’ within the ghetto is an eye sour. The place is very filthy and emits unbearable stench. In White Sand, wooden gangway is used as a bailey bridge. Despite the situation, getting a room in this ghetto is not free. When we contacted a lady about the cost of renting a room, she volunteered thus: “Here in Badia, renting an apartment is not easy because we are many. At least, you can have five to six boys or even more living in a room and more people will still want to join you. Na so we dey live here. A room is N2,500 per month and you’ll have to pay for a year or two with the agreement.”
We learnt further that some people sleep in vehicles while others also sleep beside the rail at Oju-irin. As dirty as the place is, residents do all their domestic activities, cooking in particular, in that same environment. We saw a woman roasting fish in a very stinky area, ready to be sold at the Ijora-Badia market, otherwise known as ‘Better Life.’
Some houses are, however, built with blocks. Toilets are separately built, some metres away from the houses. But some of the toilets and the bathrooms are makeshift structures.
The residents of Ijora Badia suffer to get water, whether drinkable or not. Although, the problem of water, we learnt, is not limited to Badia alone, it equally affects the residents of Ijora Oloye and other neighbouring communities. The Lagos State Water Corporation tank in the community cannot solve the problem.
Every morning, both young and old, besiege the office of the corporation to fetch water. We observed that some people were prevented from fetching water. And it became riotous at a time when people were no more allowed in. When we enquired from the gateman, his reply was, “For some days now, we’ve not been having water regularly. That is why we are preventing some people so as to allow others to fetch.”
We later discovered that the inhabitants had broken the water pipe that passes through a dirty gutter, which has no drainage. This development now affects the flow of water from the main tap. The inhabitants were seen in their numbers scrambling to get water for their daily consumption.
This development has again made water supply a very lucrative business in the entire area. There are water vendors, popularly called Meruwa in Hausa, hawking on the streets of the slum. Some landlords equally have boreholes and sell water to both their tenants and others.
The Ijora Badia environment is not conducive for learning. There is only one public school in the area. That is Ajeromi Primary School, Badia-Ijora. However, there are mushroom schools, particularly nursery and kindergarten. Some of the children attend an Islamic school, known as Modrasat, where the mallams (teachers) teach them Islamic knowledge, spiced with Western education.
One of the major challenges of Ijora Badia is security. Crime, especially at Ghana Village and White Sand, is on the high side. Lives and property are not guaranteed in the area, especially when miscreants and charlatans take to the street. Marijuana is recklessly sold. So also local gin and drugs could be gotten on the road with ease. Everybody, simply put, is a lord.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 15, 2011