Daily Trust (Abuja)

18 November 2012

Nigeria: Life At Kuramo After the Surge

Lagos — About three months back, an ocean surge sacked Kuramo Beach Community killing many people, although, according to some reports, the incident claimed only one person, as 15 others were declared missing.

Three months after the incident, the area of Kuramo remained isolated as if no life had ever existed there, yet it used to be one of the coastline areas with great economic and tourism potentials which once thrived side by side with the Bar Beach.

Except for the pounding of the wave lines on the coastlines, no sound of life could be heard, even the telltale signs of a once existing community that engaged in petty trading which provided tourists with some essential needs was absent.

The Kuramo community has relocated to the Bar Beach, reliving a new life and still striving to come to terms with the trauma of the August incident.

The communities not only suffered from the pounding of the wave, they were forced to relocate from the area, displacing some who poured into the street as some find solace at the Bar Beach.

"This is where we are now staying" said Idoko Lawrence pointing to the Bar Beach coastline saying "you know life has to go on, people have to earn a living to survive, but the incident still lingers in our minds especially when one has to remember that it claimed many of our friends."

Indeed life has to go on, as our correspondent observed people Criss Crossed in pursuit of a chosen endeavour, while at the same time few tourists graced the place, even though it was a prime time for visits.

The residents now live in small wooden shacks that are constructed in form of small kiosks which serve as their abode, while some sleep on the bare soft sand.

Experts indicate that the surge that occurred at Kuramo was as a result of an extensive alteration and or tempering with the ecological balance alongside sea level saturation as well as the effect of global warming among others.

The Kuramo Beach was like a second home to many where people trooped to relax mostly during weekends just as high profile personalities spend some time with their families and friends in the area.

"The number of people that visit this place cannot be quantified, I am not only talking about the ordinary people, even the so called big men used to come here and enjoy some time with their families even some neighbouring residents came here to spend the night because of the sea breeze." Said a lady in her early twenties who only identified herself as Lydia.

The Bar Beach, which now inherits residents of Kuramo possibly because of the stone-throw proximity, housed petty traders where some of them roam the soft sand of the coastline, food sellers and even entertainment groups who perform during the night to add glamour to the scene.

"This is my rehearsal unit, where I practice with my band", 54 year old dreadlocked Prince Sylvester said pointing to a wooden makeshift shack with a door that makes it compulsory for any one trying to enter it to bend down.

According to him, the people who government mostly considered as nuisance around the coastline areas are only trying to make a living, "this is where we make our living, we not only make a living here, we provide security to this place so that tourists can visit freely, imagine this place without people like us, hoodlums will take over the place."

Although most of the Kuramo residents concede that water level usually rises every year about this time, they however pushed the best part of the blame on the Eko Atlantic Project which they claimed helped in pushing the water above its usual level.

But a new twist to the fallout of the Kuramo incidence currently under discussion is the issue of the devastating Hurricane Sandy in some parts of the United States that killed over a hundred people.

The Lagos state Government some days back, warned residents of the state particularly those residing at coastline areas to be on the alert, as there is the possibility of ripple effect of hurricane sandy in the state.

According to the Commissioner for Waterfront Development and Infrastructure, Mr Adesegun Oniru, who stressed that the warning was not meant to cause panic, "the alert was for them to know what to do to prepare for such occurrence."

"Most of the vulnerable groups within these coastlines are the fishermen, women, artisans such as canoe builders and we have started enlightenment campaign that is why we have asked them to lookout for the turbulent water, when they see it five miles away they can easily raise alarm." National Emergency Management Agency, South West Zone, Information Officer, Ibrahim Farinloye told our correspondent.

"Yes we heard it on the radio, but where do they want us to go now, even though we are praying that nothing would happen, we have lost Kuramo, and if we are to leave here I don't think we have another place to relocate to." Said a former Kuramo Beach resident Lawrence.

But activist groups have accused authorities in their approach to disaster management alleging that they have no clear cut response to the issue especially during recent floods across the country.

"What we have observed in the communities and the grossly inadequate response of government at all levels are unmistakable indications that the global climate change phenomenon is real and also that drivers of the Nigerian state have only been mouthing emergency responses and management but have no clear cut responses to the issues," Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, Nnimmo Bassey said.

In most cases, many have contended that victims of such disasters, especially in developing countries, always remain at the receiving end of disaster situations, where after being pounded by the heavy tides of the ocean surge also come face to face with the reality of eviction from the only abode they know.

For most of the people evicted, by the surge in the coastline areas is very bleak, with many of them making references to the ongoing project which could possibly make them bid farewell to coastline life.

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