Residents and traders around Kuramo Beach in Lagos, where about 16 people were swept away into the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, said government agencies involved in the recovery operations since Saturday had abandoned the area.
Our correspondent noticed that some government officials, who were on the beach, were more concerned with levelling the part of the beach where structures were demolished on Sunday.
Some of the officials were also sand-filling an eroded portion of the area.
Few metres from where the officials were working, the body of a male victim, which floated ashore, was lying on the beach unattended to.
One of the traders, Rasheed Dosunmu, whose beer cabin was demolished, said the officials were only concerned with sand-filling the area.
He said, “These people are not concerned about whether we recover the bodies of our loved ones or not. They have done what they were sent to do, which is to send us away and demolish the whole place.
“The bodies recovered this morning (Monday) by us were taken away by their families. Where are the officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency who were here yesterday now? Where is National Emergency Agency?
“Our lives do not mean anything to the government; that is why they abandoned this rescue operation. As far as I am concern, the operation should continue for more days.”
The residents lamented that because of the development, they had been forced to take up the rescue operation, which they said would put them at risk because they were not professionals.
The people, who also gave an account of what happened when then waves enveloped the area on Saturday, said some people who were trying to rescue children were swept away because they were not professionals.
One of the security men at the beach, Abbey Edwards, told our correspondent that immediately the first waves hit, screams enveloped the area.
He said, “I was in the security office. We heard people screaming and shouting for help. We rushed outside and noticed that those living on the other side of the beach were the ones screaming for help.
“Some of my colleagues went there in a boat to rescue those we could, they were good swimmers. One of them had two children in his arm and was in the water trying to swim ashore.
“But another big wave came and swept him and the children away. The boat they took there overturned and my colleagues were swept away, while those clinging to the boat also disappeared in the wave.”
He said, “We lost the following security men; Olorunwa Babatunde, Joseph Okey and two security attaché – Benson and a man we knew as Alhaji – I don’t know their surnames.
“That part of the beach where people live, Kuramo Village, is bordered by the ocean on one side and lagoon on the other. But the wave created a rift and separated the village from the part where people relax on the beach.”
Our correspondent noticed that the area Edward described has been separated from the rest of the beach by the ocean which has linked the lagoon. What is left of Kuramo Village is now like an island.
However, when our correspondent tried to contact the General Manager of LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, his phone rang out.
But the spokesman of NEMA in Lagos, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said the agency would have been at the beach on Monday if its officials had not been mobilised to another emergency.
“You know when there are multiple emergencies, one has to consider the most urgent. Our men were alerted to a purported emergency at a residential area. Unfortunately, the alert turned out to be false. But I assure you, we will be at the beach on Wednesday to continue recovery operations,” he said.
New York Times
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