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Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) - Travel - Nairaland

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Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by dre11(m): 11:52am On Apr 15, 2016
In the 21st century, civilisation is still far from the inhabitants of Tomaro-Onisiwo on the coastal line of Lagos State, FOLASHADE ADEBAYO writes

Sweating profusely, Afeez Akanji hoisted four jerrycans of fuel into a wooden boat at the Liverpool Boat Jetty, Apapa, on Tuesday. He was on his way to Shiku, a riverside community on the Tomaro-Onisiwo Island in the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos, after keeping vigil at a filling station in the Mile 2 area. The strain of ferrying the ‘goods’ from the mouth of the bridge at Liverpool bus stop affected his speech for a moment, but the young man soon regained his composure to tell a story of frustration and struggle for survival in the hinterland.

“Life in Nigeria is not easy o. I bought fuel this morning at the normal price after sleeping at the filling station. I am going to transport it to Shiku at N1,000 because the boat operators charge us extra to carry fuel. It should have been N600, and I will ‘charter’ the middle seat to  make the boat balance. There is no electricity at Shiku. Everybody depends on generators to survive the heat and power their electrical appliances. It has been tough for us in the village since the fuel scarcity started last year.

“Many young men like me have seized the opportunity to resell fuel to people who cannot cope with the hardship of getting commodity in Apapa. So, we struggle to buy the fuel and resell at N300 per litre to the villagers. What can we do? We are far away from help on the island. Politicians only remember us during elections,” he said.

Akanji was not alone in the game. Standing at the jetty, swarming with traders selling drinks and pastries to travellers, a visitor would easily notice young men running from the mouth of the bridge to the jetty, carrying jerrycans containing the Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, in a half-run.

Apart from Shiku, the jetty is a gateway to 18 other communities on the Island. Boat operators are always busy with the ‘marine business’, as villagers and traders arrive and depart during peak hours. Challenged by distance and government absence, the lingering fuel scarcity ravaging the country is noticeably biting harder on residents living on the island.

In fact, boat operators had jerked service to Tomaro-Onisiwo in the bigger and painted wood boats, which normally cost N200 up to N300. The alternative, which was the preferred option for most of the travellers, was a ride in the smaller and unpainted wooden boats at a cost of N150 up from N100.

A boat operator, who identified himself simply as Balo, said fuel scarcity had added to the woes of operators plying the route. He also denied that operators were benefitting from extra  charge on goods and passengers.

“That is not true at all. We are gradually entering the wet season. There was a day it rained for almost the entire day. We could not work that day. We buy fuel at exorbitant prices on the mainland.  So, there is no choice but to increase the fare. So, where is the gain? The villagers also do not have an option because there is no alternative route.

“It is not like we,boat operators, are taking advantage of  the fuel scarcity. Many of us live on the island and we are affected. If you look around, you will see some boats parked by the side. It is because the owners do not have fuel to run the boats. Only a fraction of us is still working because getting fuel has become an uphill task. We transport people, goods and fuel, but I do not carry more than four jerrycans of fuel at a time. I know that many people take the fuel back to the island to resell. There is no fuel depot in any, of the communities and things are generally expensive on the island. A bottle of water, which sells for N50 at Apapa costs N80. So, you can imagine what the villagers are going through with the current situation. That is why you will not find too many concrete buildings there because you will have to add the cost of transportation to your materials,” he said.

A bumpy journey into the hinterland

It had just stopped raining on Tuesday at the Liverpool Boat Jetty, in Apapa, Lagos. In the risen seawater, overflowing with dirt and particles, a number of wooden boats waited to ferry passengers, who were mostly villagers and traders, to the 19 riverside communities on the other side of the shore.

Aside the villagers, the jetty also used to be a transit point for pupils from Shiku, Tomaro, Okoata, Agala 1, Ifako, Sabokunjo, Agala 2 and a number of other communities on the Onisiwo Island, located in the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos. Besides infrastructural challenges, the 15-minute journey was one of the prices paid by the pupils who attended junior and secondary schools in far-flung Apapa and Mile 2 areas.

The ride on the sea was no less bumpy when our correspondent visited some of the Island communities. Setting out at the jetty, the angry waves whipped the wooden boat with loud sounds. While the traders and villagers were familiar with the sea and its ‘ trouble’ moods, it was not so with visitors. This was especially as the ‘engine’ of the boat, which was marked ‘Michael Marine’, would suddenly stop working, thereby forcing the operator to restart it while the boat swayed on its own on the high sea.

Vehicles, tricycles ‘forbidden’ in the communities

For its size and place in the history of the settlers on the island, Tomaro is regarded as the headquarters of all the communities in the vicinity. But this village has almost nothing to show for its status on the ladder of socio-economic development.

Although there are two primary schools constructed by the Lagos State Government, our correspondent, who went round the communities, saw little evidence of civilisation. Apart from a solar power project on the premises of the only junior and senior high schools serving the entire island, darkness is the lot of residents at night.  Many residents said they had used generators for as long as they could remember.

Also distressing is the absence of vehicles and motorcycles otherwise called okada, which are common in Apapa and Mile 2. A fish monger, Mrs. Olanike Atun, said she almost died during the birth of her last child, a girl.

According to her, “My husband was not at home when I put to bed last November. It was in the middle of the night, and we had arranged with a boat operator in case of any emergency. We never knew that the operator, who also lives here, had taken ill and was receiving treatment in Oshodi.  By the time my sister-in-law got to his house, the baby’s head was almost out. I could have died that night. I had my baby right in the house, and the baby and I were taken on a boat to a private hospital in Mile 2 the next morning, it was a horrible experience. That would not have happened if we had a health centre here.’’

Another female resident, who craved anonymity, begged the government to open a health centre in the community. Narrating an incident which almost claimed the life of her husband, the woman said he fainted twice inside the boat on his way to hospital in Apapa.

There were more tales of woe. The Baale of Tomaro, Alhaji Sulaimon Aliu, almost roared with laughter when asked to speak on the development of the community.

“For vehicles and motorcycles, these are rare sights. You cannot find them on this island. Perhaps, you want to buy me a car. There are no alternatives to a boat ride here. Except you have access to a helicopter, there is no way to come here other than through the boats you saw at the Liverpool jetty. Many of us here are traders and fishermen.  We are peasants, but we expect the government to treat us as citizens. We vote for them during elections, but they always turn their backs on us. There is no maternity centre here. We have lost some women during childbirth. There is no amenity whatsoever.

“The only thing we have benefitted is the solar power project and it is located within the junior and senior schools. An American teacher built the two schools. Before she built them, many of our children did not go beyond primary school. They could not brave the water to  attend school every day. Only a few of them attended secondary schools in Apapa.  The schools now have more than 300 students from many communities on this island. Many of our children would have become traders like us. Now, our children can become lawyers, doctors and even President of this country. Nobody knew then that a Goodluck Jonathan from Otuoke in Bayelsa State, would, one day, become the President of the country. We are waiting for that to happen here too, “he said.

While the monarch might be bubbling with optimism, the situation on Tuesday at the Tomaro-Onisiwo Junior and Senior Secondary School where academic activities have just resumed for the third term cut a different picture. Apart from the fact that there are not enough teachers, the school does not have laboratories just as a library is an unthinkable facility in the institution.

Still, the founder of the school, Deena Grushkin appeared proud of her efforts. According to Grushkin, a schoolteacher in Texas, United States, an appeal from the Baale of the community, prompted her to build the school.

Although the school still lacks necessary facilities, Grushkin, who is also the founder of The Nigerian School Project, said she was happy that the pupils were academically sound.

“I have been coming to Nigeria for the past 14 years, but I visited Tomaro for the first time in 2008. The Baale asked me to build a school and I picked interest since I am a teacher. I went back to America to raise funds and the junior school was built in 2009 while the senior school was built in 2014. We also built the staff quarters to encourage quality teachers to come here.  The junior school has consistently came 13th in the state examination in three years in a row. That is out of 3,000 schools.

“I know that the schools have needs and that is why we want  the state government to create a sustainable project. It is not my job to keep the school alive. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the schools continue to have enough teachers. But I am happy that there are results already. The school was recently given computers as a reward for doing well in the state examination and now we have a solar power project,’’

The Project Coordinator, TNSP, Rev. Andrew Duya, urged the state government to erect more structures to accommodate the pupils. Duya, who lamented the apathy exhibited by the authorities to the community, said there was the need to work on the literacy level of youths to enable them compete with their contemporaries in the future.

“The initial problem was to stop children from crossing the dangerous water in the effort to attend school in Apapa. That was why the school was built in 2014. But approval was not granted until 2015. You can see now that more classrooms are needed. The community has supported the school and you can see that they cherish education.  There are two teachers for the junior school and five teachers for the senior schools.  You will not believe that the government pays only six teachers in the junior school while the community pays four teachers. That is how much committed they are to educating their children.”

Bereft of hospital, police station and electricity

Besides schools, the absence of health institutions and other indices of government presence on the Island are obvious. For instance, none of the Island is connected to the national grid while people in need of medical attention travel on water and land to get to the nearest hospital.

Not too far from the jetty is the Agala I community. Life crawls at a slow space in this island village as many residents have departed to nearby environs on the mainland to work. Prevalent in the community are thatch houses, though there are a handful of concrete buildings. Like Tomaro, there are just a few block buildings. Houses built in raffia palm seem to be in the majority in the community. With no automobiles, footpaths are in place for roads and bus stops. However, there are a few shops in the community.

Easily noticeable was the presence of local wells and boreholes sunk by community members. Health centre and a police post are non-existent in Agala 1 just as there are no industrial centres to engage the youth in the community.

Although there is no power supply in the community, a shop owner, Ola Onifade, produced a chilled bottle of soft drink when our correspondent approached him. According to him, many residents depend on generators for livelihood and domestic purposes. He added that there had never been electricity in the community since he was born.

“There is no community connected to the national grid on this island.  I am sure that we will all dance and celebrate for a week if the government decides to supply us with electricity today. Nobody is bothered and we have resigned to fate,’’ he said.

The Baale of Agala 1, Alhaji Isa Okesina, lamented what he termed as discrimination of the Egun people. Despite paying taxes and rates, according to Okesina, the community fends for itself without any intervention from the government.

“If you go round the community, you will see that my people have developed distrust for the government. Every tax imposed on people living on the mainland is also applicable to us and we have been paying to both the state and the local government. It is like they are waiting for us all to die. We are mainly Egun people from Badagry and we have been performing our duties to the both the local and state government.

“We have been living in total darkness for years. We laugh when we hear people complain of power outage. We have never had light and that has been the experience of all the communities on this island. There was a borehole constructed by the government but it stopped working for a long time. Is this where our great-grand children will live in? There are only three teachers in the primary school here and that has been the case for years. Of course, there is no health centre. We travel as far as Mile 2 and Apapa to access healthcare,’’ he said.

Hope on the horizon

Attempts to reach out the Executive Secretary of the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government, Mrs. Modupe Ojodu, on Wednesday were not successful as the Council Manager, Mr. Shakiru Omotayo, told our correspondent that his principal was away on holy pilgrimage.

However, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said that no community would be left behind in the wave of urbanisation in the state.

“The plight of that community will be addressed. They should bear with the government. Governor Ambode promised that no one and no community will be left behind and you have seen how several neglected communities are gradually being connected-with good healthcare, light, schools and security. Tomaro-Onisiwo Island will soon feel our presence. It is one after the other. They should bear with the government,” he said in a text message on Thursday.

Also, the Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr. Adesegun Ogundeji, said the state government had adopted the school and would soon deploy more teachers in the island.

 “I have spoken with the Permanent Secretary and that particular school has been adopted by the state government. All its members of staff members are employees of the state government. We are liaising with District five to determine the needs of the school and the state government will provide them within the limit of the available resources,” he said.

http://www.punchng.com/lagos-community-where-cars-okadas-are-forbidden/

Pic 1: Shanties at Tomaro on Tuesday. Inset: Villagers arriving Tomaro from Liverpool Jetty

Pic 2: The shoreline of Agala 1… on Tuesday

1 Share

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by Nixiepie(f): 11:56am On Apr 15, 2016
Nawa oo,people are really suffering,.....this village needs help asap

4 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by Aminat508(f): 11:58am On Apr 15, 2016
cheesy
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by Godsgal(f): 12:00pm On Apr 15, 2016
After reading these. I have come to the conclusion that ' Eko ti baje'

13 Likes 3 Shares

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by tonylaw07(m): 1:02pm On Apr 15, 2016
If the govt should build a bridge to the community then make them expect to pack cause the govt will turn the place to an island for the Elite.

19 Likes 3 Shares

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 1:09pm On Apr 15, 2016
Tomaro Onisiwo is my Island. I live there. The picture the writer painted, is not that bleak. Though the Island is not connected to the National grid (yet) and the community is badly in need of a decent health care facility, the Island and surrounding Islands are serene and not all houses are shanties. (My house a decent and is not a shanty) The view from the window of my room is what some people will kill for. The small lake and the backdrop of the rising Eko Atlantic is what I wake up to everyday.
Tomaro is improving and it will improve. It was not like this 5,10 or 15 years ago.
I will be posting pictures of my beautiful Island here.
There are motorcycles (lots of it even on the island) and neither motorcycle nor motorcars are forbidden. There are no cars because there is no way of ferrying it to the island.

55 Likes 6 Shares

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 1:23pm On Apr 15, 2016
These are just some random pictures I have on my phone. i will try to snap and upload on this thread subsequently.

14 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 1:33pm On Apr 15, 2016
More

16 Likes 2 Shares

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 1:43pm On Apr 15, 2016
More

13 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by drslimtommy: 5:43pm On Apr 15, 2016
A
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by davis112(m): 5:44pm On Apr 15, 2016
Na wa ooo,,so some place for naija neva civilised,,dia is GOD,,who cause am abeg,,

1 Like

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by Firefire(m): 5:50pm On Apr 15, 2016
Imagine...
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by Dominionhost(m): 5:50pm On Apr 15, 2016
jaymichael:
More
@jaymichael,
Thanks for giving us the true state of this place jor

40 Likes 1 Share

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by blessedfavoured: 5:50pm On Apr 15, 2016
Jaymichael see bush around your house... Assuming that's your house.

I'm sure you're part of the "see the snake I killed in my room this morning" crew.

25 Likes 5 Shares

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by MrTeCO(m): 5:52pm On Apr 15, 2016
Nice place to invest in real estate n tourism....

Mehn, a nice Lake View Estate will do well here.

4 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by joystickextend1(m): 5:56pm On Apr 15, 2016
Nice
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 5:57pm On Apr 15, 2016
blessedfavoured:
Jaymichael see bush around your house... Assuming that's your house.

I'm sure you're part of the "see the snake I killed in my room this morning" crew.
Thats bot my house, but there is a small lake and a little bush around my house. That area you call bush is now built up.

7 Likes 1 Share

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by masterblogger(m): 5:59pm On Apr 15, 2016
Not new. This is common in the riverine areas of bayelsa state.

3 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 6:03pm On Apr 15, 2016
Just stay tuned, I will post more pictures of my Island and how we survive living off-grid. I lost a lot of pictures of our Island when some files got deleted on my SDcard.
people no know say Lagos na 2

5 Likes 1 Share

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by iamclime(m): 6:04pm On Apr 15, 2016
jaymichael:
Tomaro Onisiwo is my Island. I live there. The picture the writer painted, is not that bleak. Though the Island is not connected to the National grid (yet) and the community is badly in need of a decent health care facility, the Island and surrounding Islands are serene and not all houses are shanties. (My house a decent and is not a shanty) The view from the window of my room is what some people will kill for. The small lake and the backdrop of the rising Eko Atlantic is what I wake up to everyday.
Tomaro is improving and it will improve. It was not like this 5,10 or 15 years ago.
I will be posting pictures of my beautiful Island here.
There are motorcycles (lots of it even on the island) and neither motorcycle nor motorcars are forbidden. There are no cars because there is no way of ferrying it to the island.
jaymichael,
I love the angle you looked at it from. Life is what we make of it. Everything is beautiful in nature; it depends on how we see it. Lovely pictures you have there. Are there any places of special tourist interest on your island? Please reply.

25 Likes 1 Share

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jjwaterfalls(f): 6:06pm On Apr 15, 2016
Wow
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by Tpeters(m): 6:06pm On Apr 15, 2016
My brother, the summary is, you live in the CREEK , ur own just dey lagos.... Many of dis kind island dey rivers wella

2 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by juman(m): 6:06pm On Apr 15, 2016
Hmmm
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by blackjack21(m): 6:07pm On Apr 15, 2016
jaymichael:
Tomaro Onisiwo is my Island. I live there. The picture the writer painted, is not that bleak. Though the Island is not connected to the National grid (yet) and the community is badly in need of a decent health care facility, the Island and surrounding Islands are serene and not all houses are shanties. (My house a decent and is not a shanty) The view from the window of my room is what some people will kill for. The small lake and the backdrop of the rising Eko Atlantic is what I wake up to everyday.
Tomaro is improving and it will improve. It was not like this 5,10 or 15 years ago.
I will be posting pictures of my beautiful Island here.
There are motorcycles (lots of it even on the island) and neither motorcycle nor motorcars are forbidden. There are no cars because there is no way of ferrying it to the island.
Really nice place it is. Can we be friends?

3 Likes

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by GboyegaD(m): 6:14pm On Apr 15, 2016
Do we truly qualify to be called a developing nation? We will get there some day but I fear it might not be in this generation.
Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by ijustdey: 6:15pm On Apr 15, 2016
this kind of things will remind one of how communities were before the advent of civilization



so serene, cool, pure, beautiful and lovely.

1 Like

Re: Tomaro-Onisiwo, Lagos Community Where Cars, Okadas Are ‘forbidden’ (pictures) by jaymichael(m): 6:16pm On Apr 15, 2016
iamclime:

jaymichael,
I love the angle you looked at it from. Life is what we make of it. Everything is beautiful in nature; it depends on how we see it. Lovely pictures you have there. Are there any places of special tourist interest on your island? Please reply.
Naturaly,there are a few bars here and there, There is Inogbe grand resort (Ooni of Ife's island resort) close by, just less than 15 minutes boat ride.
Tarawa bay beach is about an hour of hiking from my place. you can hire a boat if you can't trek.
Some companies are building an hotel resort and some industrial establishment on a vast expanse of land on our Island between Irede(manager) and Tomaro.
What I enjoy as the ultimate attraction is the natural endowments. I have more than 5 or 6 waterfronts U can go and relax and refresh myself.

4 Likes

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