Residents and business owners from Coastes and Kano streets, Makoko Waterfront, Lagos, narrated how they lost properties to an inferno on Wednesday.
They also expressed concerns about an alleged plan by the Lagos State Government to evict them.
A woman simply identified as Mummy Daniel could not hold her tears while speaking with FIJ. Her credentials had been consumed by the fire.
“My credentials, my diploma result, I lost everything,” she said.
Daniel, her son, was rescued by thugs quenching the fire before the late arrival of Lagos firefighters.
Jide Odufuwa, a business owner in the slum, said he could not salvage his property.
Before arriving at the scene, the fire had consumed his equipment estimated at over N500,000.
However, there were different accounts of what caused the fire. While some of the residents said it was caused by an electric spark, a few said it happened after some persons set tyres on fire.
BURNT TO ASHES
Sources told FIJ hundreds of shanties, mini sawmills and expensive equipment were burnt to ashes despite efforts by hoodlums to put out the fire. “This open place you are seeing now was occupied by houses and shops made of planks,” a young man told our reporter.
The thugs could have quenched the fire had there been enough water in the slum. They effortlessly fought the fire since it broke out around 11:00 am. “The water in the slum don dry because we dey dry season now,” one of the thugs said.
He said they had to dig some portions of the slum to extract water. But the water they got was not enough, the reason the fire took over everywhere.
Ibrahim Farinloye, the South-west Zonal Coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency, had said the fire razed 40 sawmill machines, 250 shanties and 200 makeshift houses.
Lukmon Jimoh, a senior security officer at the Total petrol station in the area, was speechless when FIJ approached him. “The only conversation that can salvage our loss now is how the government can help us,” he said.
Standing next to Jimoh was Kudirat Oloto. She was a two-time victim of inferno in the area. “I am a victim of the one that happened in the market last year,” she said. “Now another one surfaced.”
Kudirat told FIJ she only escaped with the dress on her body. A man said he was only concerned about his kids. “By the time I would collect them from the scene, fire had taken over my house,” he told FIJ.
‘THIS IS NOT HOW TO EVICT PEOPLE’
Some residents alleged that evil agents of the government purposely set the place on fire. A resident, who doesn’t want to be named, said, “We understand the government is interested in this slum and they want to rebrand it. But this is not the way to evict people. It is heartless to victimise your citizens”.
“We understand they own their land,” another man interjected. “But they should pity us. This is too much to bear.”
Femi Osanyitolu, the Director-General of Lagos State Emergency Agency, did not respond to FIJ’s calls. A text message sent to him had also not been responded to at press time.
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