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Lagos Inequalities

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Narch
Words 5374
Pages 22
Lagos: the survival of the determined

Lagos is a city where near anarchy prevails rather than government. Lagosins respond to the chaos by relying on their own ingenuity to get by
It’s rush-hour near the stadium in Lagos where Nigeria has just lost a football match. Streams of young men run through the street to let off steam as crowds dive into the tangle of battered yellow minibuses. A dozen passengers pack into one bus, and the driver grinds into gear, lurching at full throttle to gain a six-inch lead over his competitor. The side-view mirror has to be pulled in for the bus to squeeze through. Girls balancing bags of water on their heads edge their way through the traffic to vend their wares. Toilet brushes, cutting shears, smoked fish, hankies, inflatable globes and even a steering wheel are sold by boys as the coil of traffic becomes ever more ensnared. But the action never stops for a moment. That’s Lagos—a city that moves, miraculously, against the odds. A mighty magnet It’s difficult to find the centre, let alone the logic, of this city reputed to be the most dangerous in Africa. Three bridges connect about 3,500 square kilometres of lagoon, islands, swamp and the mainland, where unlit highways run past canyons of smouldering garbage before giving way to dirt streets weaving through 200 slums, their sewers running with raw waste. So much of the city is a mystery. No one even knows for sure the size of the population—officially it’s 6 million, but most experts estimate it at 10 million (see box)—let alone the number of murders each year, the rate of HIV infection or the quantities of drugs that pass through the port of Apapa. Corruption is endemic at all levels. A bus driver doesn’t even slow down to slip a few bills into a policeman’s open palm to avoid being pulled over. The rich barricade themselves on two fortress islands, removed from the mainland,...

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