Some fishermen and women in the Makoko area of Lagos on Wednesday have sought the state government intervention.
At an event tagged, “The rights of Makoko fishermen and women,” they said the sea dredging and land reclamation would take away their source of livelihoods and render them homeless.
“The first is that the fishes aren’t nearby anymore. Unless we go far, we won’t see any fish to catch,” said 72-year-old Isaac Dosugau.
Mr Dosugau said that ever since the dredging around the Third Mainland bridge started, they have been hearing that they would be evicted from their homes.
The “dredging has caused holes in the river making the fishes hide there,” he added.
Mr Dosugau, who inherited the occupation from his father, said “they have spoken with the government but were yet to get a desirable response.”
Victoria Ayole, 62, said that she needs a boat and an engine that can withstand the wind.
Mrs Ayole, who has over 30 years of experience fishing, said that whenever the wind is strong, their boat will capsize, making them lose their catch.
“What we face is the wind of the river. We need you to help us with tools like boats, engines,” she said.
An environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, said the government ought to intervene because “the fish, the crabs are what is feeding this city.”
Mr Bassey said the challenges shared by the fishers “are things that the government should be able to solve,” but “unfortunately, our politicians will only come when they are looking for votes.”
“The fishing you do is a family business, the man goes to fish, the women go to fish, … everybody is active and contributing to the economy of Lagos State.
“So, if some people come to dreg and destroy where the fish should be or others come to sandfill and make you homeless, that is totally unacceptable.”
Mr Bassey urged the artisans to be organised so that their demands can be met.
“Fish Net Alliance is a very good association… One of the easiest ways to get support is not to come as an individual but as a group,” he said.
“So, if you have Makoko Fish Net Alliance group…so whether you need speedboats, nets, what you need, if you come together and request for that and work towards that collectively, you will certainly get it.”
Speaking with journalists, Mr Bassey described the community as one of the “most vibrant location” in the state.
He, however, said they face threats of displacement.
“The threat of displacement is always hanging over this community and this is not a way for a community to live, to sleep with one eye open,” he said.
He, however, said the state government “has a penchant for demolishing coastal communities and they shouldn’t bring it here.”
At the event, they received donations including fish nets and baskets.