“Today Makoko is home to people from a variety of riverine communities along Nigeria’s coast in a settlement where multiple languages are spoken: French, English, Yoruba and Egun. From the Third Mainland Bridge – the fastest route from the island “downtown” to the airport – Makoko looks serene”
PEGASUS REPORTERS, LAGOS | AUGUST 31, 2023
Makoko is an informal settlement across the 3rd Mainland Bridge located on the coast of mainland Lagos. A third of the community is built on stilts along the lagoon and the rest is on the land. The waterfront part of the community is largely harboured by the Egun people who migrated from Badagary and the Republic of Benin and whose main occupation is fishing, according to Wikipedia.
The floating community is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of Africa” owing to its waterways. Its population is considered to be 85,840; however, the area was not officially counted as part of the 2007 census and the population has been estimated to be much higher. In July 2012, the Lagos State government ordered that some of the stilts beyond the power lines be brought down without proper notice. This led to the destruction of several stilts on the Iwaya/Makoko waterfront and many families were rendered.
Established in the 19th century, much of Makoko rests in structures constructed on stilts above Lagos Lagoon. Makoko is a neighbouring community to Iwaya on the waterfront and Oko Baba.
The name Makoko is literally translated from Yoruba to be “Pick Akoko”. In Yoruba tradition “Akoko” leaves are used to aid fertility and also used during Chieftancy coronation, present-day Makoko had the leaf growing in abundance
In July 2012, the Lagos State government under the governorship of Babatunde Fashola ordered that the stilts on the Iwaya/Makoko waterfront be demolished and dozens of stilts were demolished within 72 hours of notice to the residents. Nearly 3,000 people lost their homes to the demolition exercise. Two months after the partial demolition, a Serac housing affiliate known as the Urban Spaces Innovation developed a regeneration plan for Makoko that would bring the community together with academics, non-profits, and international consultants. The plan was submitted to the Lagos State Ministry of Urban and Physical Planning in January 2014.
Today Makoko is home to people from a variety of riverine communities along Nigeria’s coast in a settlement where multiple languages are spoken: French, English, Yoruba and Egun. From the Third Mainland Bridge – the fastest route from the island “downtown” to the airport – Makoko looks serene.
How are the houses in Makoko built?
Most buildings in Makoko are made using basic timber construction elevated on stilts made out of wood or bamboo. This appears to be a quite sustainable system for the community due to its proximity to the sawmills as well as the availability and affordability of bamboo.
And the boys took a canoe ride to survey the “aquatic city” in the heart of Lagos!
What are the problems with Makoko?
Currently, malaria, respiratory diseases and malnutrition are endemic problems in Makoko. The community is at risk due to the eviction promoted by the Nigerian government, which intends to build an extension of the luxurious neighbourhood of Victoria Island and clean the image of the city.
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