Monday, June 03, 2019

Lagos - a mega city

Lagos is home to 22 million people and counting, more than double New York and London's tally. 

The city's population grows by 77 people every hour as Nigerians from less industrialised regions seek jobs. And as the city grows, so too does demand for housing.
An estimated two-thirds of people in the Lagos metropolis live in informal accommodation or slums. Some jostle for space in crowded shanties, often built on stilts in water communities where residents live under the threat of eviction or in dilapidated buildings prone to collapse.

In a country where the minimum wage is about $80 a month and where graduates earn an average of 80,000 naira ($222) a month, renting in Lagos is an expensive exercise.
The housing shortage is also exacerbated by unoccupied luxury apartments in wealthy Lagos suburbs, including Ikoyi and Victoria Island where rent typically begins from $20,000 a year, in a country where almost half of its citizens live on less than $2 daily
The Eko Atlantic project aims to solve the dual problem of job and housing shortages in Lagos. It is currently being built on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean and protected from rising sea tides by an 8.5km wall dubbed the Great Wall of Lagos. Once complete, it will comprise housing blocks for 250,000 people, a financial district, and private water and power. The project envisions itself to be the size of Manhattan's skyscraper district and there have been suggestions it will only cater to Lagos's ultrarich, a tag developers are trying to shake. There are concerns over the project's potential effect on surrounding communities, particularly how the low-lying areas will cope in the event of a storm surge.

Nnimmo Bassey, an environmentalist and activist, describes the project as "climate change apartheid", telling Al Jazeera it further deepens the economic divide "between the filthy rich and the rest of the people struggling for survival". Bassey believes claiming marine land has destroyed ecosystems and could lead to the extinction of some species. "It swallowed up public beaches and deflected coastal erosion to other communities. Some communities are getting hit by coastal erosion pushed their way by this project and they require heightened levels of investment to secure them."

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