Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Did you hear? Lagos is flooded again.

This in itself is not surprising. No city, no matter how well planned can withstand the biblical levels of rain we’ve had this past week much less Lagos, a city that looks and often feels like it was designed by a five year old playing Sim City.

However, I knew there would be flooding. Just not this bad. Anyone looking at trash clogging our gutters, drains and waterways would have known that there were going to be issues.

While the government gets a 0 for their town planning, we as citizens need to accept some culpability.

One day I was riding home with my sister. We were on Falomo Bridge and noticed the construction of a multistory parking lot blocking off the views of the creek below. My sister complained about how little by little they were blocking off all the views of the water and how the government didn’t think we deserved any beauty.

No sooner had the words escaped her lips than we saw a guy in front of us casually open his window and throw his plastic bottle out right in the middle of the bridge.

We were struck dumb. We looked at each other and let our silence say more than we could ever do.

The truth is we are animals. We are selfish and lack empathy and do things like throwing stuff on the road because it won’t affect us personally, until it does, like now.

We are quite fine in using our drains and canals as refuse dumps. Our water bodies are filthy. Going to Tarkwa Bay makes me retch and seethe at all the greasy rubbish-infested water and wasted potential.

That’s us: too selfish or lazy or unthinking to hold on to our trash till we can dispose of it; too craven and greedy to refrain from building our houses and shopping centers without conducting environmental assessments, not caring whether we block or impede drainage channels, aided by a government more interested in making money than its citizens wellbeing.

A friend of mine thinks that if we put trashcans everywhere people will use them, that if we sensitize them they will understand how easy it is to block a drain with cans and bottles.

I’m skeptical, I don’t think you can really teach empathy.

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