Fishermen in Lagos cry out as development crawls into the city
Nigeria is Africa’s largest importer of foreign fish, with a demand for more than 3m metric tonnes each year. Despite having an Atlantic coastline of 853km (530 miles), the country is unable to provide fish for a population that is predicted to double by 2050.
In Lagos, and particularly in Epe, fishermen and farmers are having to travel further to get fish. The Lekki lagoon, previously a fisherman’s paradise, is being slowly depleted by various megacity projects, the biggest of which is an oil refinery owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.
To make way for infrastructure development, the government of Lagos has been evicting waterfront communities and building high-rise housing projects on the land. More than 30,000 people have been displaced, reducing the number of people able to fish and farm in Lagos’ waters.
In Badagry, the Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company is accused of polluting the environment by causing acid rain and reducing the quality of fish in the waters.
“The moment that the Dangote refinery is turned on, it is is over for us fishermen. What will our lives be then?” says Tijani. There is a fear that an accidental oil leak could leave the land and water in the same state as in Ogoniland. “The government has not cleaned it up and people have died over nothing.”
“Without any government intervention at this point, we don’t know what will happen to the local fish population,” says Aderemi.