FIVE more bodies swept away by weekend ocean surge at Kuramo beach

LAGOS— FIVE more bodies swept away by weekend ocean surge at Kuramo beach in Victoria Island were recovered yesterday at the shore of Bar beach.

The recovered bodies were those of a two-year- old boy, Daniel Ajose, his mother, Mrs Mariam Ajose, Mr Joseph Oke, Olumide, and Alhaji Babatunde Benson, alias KC . This has brought the number of the dead to 10

There was a mild drama yesterday at Kuramo beach as some divers whose services were employed to scout for the bodies threatened to stop further work, alleging that they had been shortchanged.

DANGEROUS FUN—Fun seekers at the Bar Beach, Lagos, yesterday, despite the recent ocean surge that claimed several lives at the Kuramo Beach also in Lagos. Photos: Lamidi Bamidele.

The divers numbering four  explained that before they started the search on Sunday they had bargained for N50,000 at the completion of the job yesterday but those who hired them reneged on the agreement.  One of the divers who identified himself as Segun  said “today (yesterday), after we have recovered some of the bodies, we were given one thousand naira to share among ourselves”.

Divers threaten to stop search

He could however not state the name of the company that hired their services, saying “a man came to us saying they were from the state government. We have therefore resolve not to work further if we are not paid. Even if they will not pay us N50,000, at least , let them pay us something reasonable because paddling boats with the present tide can be dangerous”

Meanwhile fun seekers besieged Bar beach to celebrate  Sallah, with most of them claiming to be ignorant of the ocean surge at Kuramo beach while others expressed hope that the high tide would not get to Barbeach. “If it is dangerous, we would have been warned. The tide is favourable and there are divers around to ensure none gets drowned. Besides, government has worked on this beach.”

Occupants speak

However, occupants of the demolished shanties were still seen at Kuramo, with some of them saying they had nowhere else to go.  One of them, Kudirat Opeoluwa, told Vanguard, “ we have even lost contact with some of our relatives. As you know, a poor man has no friend. We are therefore left with no option than to hang around here until we have an alternative abode.

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The entire area had been condoned off by security operatives, as work of sand filling went on. Relatives of  some of the missing victims were also sighted at the beach. They, however, kept mute when Vanguard approached them

Senior Adviser to Security and Traffic Management of Eti-Osa local government,  Stanley Iyere described the  surge as the most tragic in the history of the local government, assuring that  the authorities would  do everything possible to forestall it.

Mr. Fred, one of the occupants at the Beach, blamed the surge on the state government’s Eko Atlantic City project. “For me the cause of this surge came from the Lagos State government. Since 2009 when the Lagos state government commenced the construction of the Eko Atlantic City, the surge has begun to increase. And this year, the work got to Kuramo Beach. It happens yearly, especially from August to November, when the ocean current always rises. And because of the ongoing work at the Eko Atlantic City, the ocean current had nowhere to flow instead and it flowed to the shore to demolish our structures.

“Before the state government embarked on the construction of the city, during this time, what we normally experience is high tide and within hours, it would have subsided. The only thing that would be affected by the tide were the structures.

“Since they began the construction of this Eko Atlantic City, it has been from one issue to the other. And the reason is because we are middle class earners. The government is busy constructing home for the rich, abandoning the downtrodden. Despite this, we pay ground rent to the government, liquor license and other levies.

“The question I want to ask the government is that what is important about this Eko Atlantic City. Why will they not favour the poor masses ahead of the so called rich of the society? If the city is not there, the surge would have been mild.”

How I narrowly escaped being swept away — Survivor

Another occupant, Mrs. Amaka Obi, said “For me, I am moving my properties out of this place. I will be returning to Ijora axis of Lagos, where I came from to continue my business. There is no reason waiting behind after the government has demolished our structures. I thank God because I narrowly escaped being swept away. The current was so strong that I had to hold on to a structure before I managed to find a balance and miraculously found myself on a safe ground.

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The Chief Executive Officer, CEO of a relaxation spot at the beach, Mr. Ademola Ogunbona, also recounted his experience; “The surge comes but it has not been as high as this since I relocated to Kuramo Beach in 2010. Since I came to this place, I have never seen a surge of this magnitude. All we had in the past was high tide. And when it comes, it does not affect lives but structures. For this year, it started two months ago. The surge came and it demolished tens of structures which prompted the Chairman of the investors association, who ordered that the woods left undistorted be set ablaze.

“And last week Monday, the surge began again. But the peak of it was between Friday night and the early hours of last Saturday, when it wrecked havoc on the community. On that day, the ocean current was very high, leaving larger part of the area submerged by water.

Secretary of the Kuramo Tourism Investors Association, Mr. Micheal Onuwaje in his own narration said: “The actual number of those whose lives were lost cannot be ascertained at this moment but we know that in the couple of days, the ocean current will dump the bodies of those who got drowned on the shoreline. By then we will be able to ascertain the accurate figure of those who got drowned.

“We are taking our property to our various homes. Not all our members pass the night here. Some only carry out their businesses here during the day and leave for their residence at night, while others reside here permanently.

The Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Adesugun Oniru stated thus: “If you are familiar with this area, you will notice that part of the measures adopted by the state government to reduce ocean surge was the Eko Atlantic City. The on-going construction of the city has saved Victoria Island and others.

What happened here has nothing to do with Eko Atlantic City. The city under construction has never caused any ocean surge in the state. This is a natural phenomenon which happens three times in a year. At this time, one cannot cheat nature.

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Lagos Commissioner  debunks occupants’ allegations

This issue is a worldwide issue (ocean surge) and this is our own share of it. The surge has nothing to do with the Eko Atlantic City. Since the commencement of the ongoing construction of the city, it has protected the entire Victoria Island, Ikoyi and others.

One can imagine what would have happened if this intervention from the state government was not there. The entire Island would have been submerged by water.

The shipwreck also didn’t cause the surge. What ship wreck does is that one side of the ship will be accumulating sand while the other will have high erosion. The only thing ship wreck will cause is that it will disturb the natural flow of that which nourish the shoreline.

We will remove the wrecked ships from the ocean very soon. Therefore, these two issues have nothing to do with ocean surge. The surge is caused by the high accumulation of water in the Atlantic Ocean coupled with the high waves.

Govt should have warned citizens — Picnicker

Meanwhile a picnicker, Mr. Joseph Wayo, argued that the government should have warned the citizens earlier and that demolition was not the solution to the problem.

According to him, “I flew in yesterday from Abuja with my family to catch fun at the Kuramo Beach. But on getting here, I was told the Beach had been demolished because of the lives that were lost in the ocean surge. For me, I do not think this is the right way to do it.

The Federal Government should have seen the surge earlier before now with our two satellites which they claim are working and make a public announcement on it, urging their citizens to vacate the entire ocean line. Okay now, will the government because of the surge demolish the entire structures in Lekki and its environs?. I believe the government should do the right thing by ensuring adequate protection of lives and property of citizenry.”

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