At first, there isn’t much to diffentiate the structure from others around it, as it comprises of wood like many others in the neighbourhood, but ascending the step and assessing the place leaves no one in doubt. The structure’s in a class of its own, as it comprises world class facilities. It’s called the Makoko Neighbourhood Hotspot with a waste management and renewable system, a biogas plant, cooking gas and fertilizer extraction facility in place to serve the community. It would, in essence, revolutionize the way people of the waterfront community live their lives. In the case of waste management for instance, the people can now make use of the toilet facility for N20 as against the N50 collected elsewhere. As a fishing community, the fish entrails, which initially is deposited in the lagoon, just as the human waste, will be converted to fertilizer by the installed facility and used to boost agriculture. The project, which was unveiled on November 25 in Makoko, was developed and implemented by Fabulous Urban, a Swiss based company with office in Nigeria. It was built with the support of the Consulate General of Germany in Nigeria and the Switzerland government and its commissioning attracted dignitaries such as Alexandra Herr, the deputy Consul General of Germany in Nigeria, Christine K, the country director of Heinrich Böll Foundation Nigeria, Felix Mouka of SERAC (Social & Economic Rights Action Centre), Monika Umunna, Lagos Liaison Office, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Lookman Oshodi, project director, Arctic Infrastructure, Fabienne Hoelzel, founding director of Fabulous Urban, Aniche Phil-Ebosie of Eongratis Renewables which provided support for the Makoko Neighbourhood Hotspot via waste water treatment plant/ Biogas plant and many community leaders of Makoko.
Hoelzel, in her remarks, said the project took five years to complete. She described the facility as a self sustaining hotspot projected to serve as a centre of activity for the people of Makoko. Herr said Germany is happy to be associated with the project. “The technology is state of the art. In Germany, we are into renewable energy and this(hotspot) is an example of how with simple things, you can improve things. The Consulate found it necessary to support the project so as to maximize waste,” she explained. Christine K said she’s hopeful the facility will serve the Makoko people well as it’s well thought out and implemented by a leader in urban planning. Umunna, on her part, while congratulating all those who contributed to the project, said the project has the potential to generate interest and be replicated in many parts of Lagos.
Thanking those who helped make the project a reality, Mouka said the beauty of it all is not just the pipes, tanks and other applications that come with it but the evidence of the will of the Makoko people to stand firm in the midst of challenges and work with other good people to accomplish good things. “If you have good idea and don’t have the resources, it won’t happen. The context in which this is going on is that we are trying to send a signal to everyone that Makoko belongs to the Makoko community. The impetus started in 2012 when the Lagos State government attempted to destroy the community. We challenge that effort to demolish the community. There’s potential to make this a better community. The people deserve to have a better life; the children should have as good a future as their peers elsewhere,” he said.
Francis Agoyon, a Makoko traditional leader called Baale, while thanking all those who contributed to the success of the project, called on the Lagos State government to revisit the Makoko/ Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan submitted to it to enhance physical regeneration and economic growth of the community. “While we are still awaiting words from the Lagos State Government, the plan is already yielding investment for the city of Lagos as evidenced by the Biogas we are commissioning today. Another investment is the Makoko/Iwaya Primary Healthcare Project being implemented by Arctic Infrastructure (with) support from Switzerland. My appeal is that Lagos State Government should give us maximum cooperation and support through the Regeneration Plan towards changing the face of Makoko//Iwaya Waterfront community to one of the best residential communities in Lagos State.”
Before the event came to a close, a young musical group of boys and girls entertained the audience as a gesture of appreciation from the community.
To ensure better service delivery, the Makoko Neighborhood Hotspot would be managed by a body called the Makoko Neighborhood Hotspot Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited. Those saddled with the responsibility, it was revealed, have already undergone training.