By Ikenna Emewu
If you are a beach lover in Lagos and having known or been to or had fun at the Elegushi Beach on Osapa, at the bustling cornubation axis of Lagos at the peninsula strip towards Epe, please delete that beach from you list of fun places in the city.
That beach is gone, lost and confined to history. It is lost forever to the new rave of Lagos administrators, which is land avarice.
What is left of that wonderful and beautiful beach is akin to burnt out husks of a beautiful mansion that came under inferno.
Curiosity brought Daily Sun into this realization.
It was one sunny afternoon, at that axis of Lagos that Daily just had a longing to be at that beach finding one’s self around that part of the city.
The defeat of the intention of seeing the beach started with the dilapidated and almost impassable road leading from the Victoria Island-Epe highway at the Osapa end, directly opposite a sprawling Shoprite plaza.
Veering into that road clearly marked Elegushi Beach Road was tortuous and tormenting to the car and the riders.
But the urge to see it was compelling and on getting to a gate that leads supposedly to the beach, the entire environment takes a totally different look. That stretch of flatland has become a desert of golden sand that shimmers in the bright sun. However, the intention still won’t go to force a retreat. As the journey continued, the gatekeepers insisted one parted with N1000 each. It was later negotiated down to N500 as entry fee, which from their manners showed it was free money and never for the beach. Then, it was already late to get back as the reporter’s hunch had taken over, fueling the curiosity to see it all and at least have a story to report.
However, the sand heaps that look endless across the gate created a scene that captivates. It is like a replication of desert sand dunes and fine barchans, forming a curvy arch of hundreds of little sand mountains.
At some points, the sands have been scattered flat and even, creating a soft surface that sinks slightly as you walk over it. But you need to off your shoes to walk through.
Towards the water front, there is a high ridge of sand bar, so high that it can’t even be climbed to have a sight of the rolling ocean waves.
To get to see the beautiful jubilant blue ocean waves, you take a circuitous walk round till you find a passageway.
When you make it to the shoreline, the beauty of the sea waves remain the usual joyous dance of wish-wash.
But there have been long fingers or strips of rocks arranged into huge ridges stretching from the shoreline into the sea. There are at least six of them within sight. The boulders that make the ridges are delicately and professionally arranged to slow down and break the wave force towards the land. The sea waves bash the rock walls from all fronts and some urchins walk on them as if intending to dare the sea.
At the far left end of the seashore is a little cluster of most dingy huts. Taking a gamble to get closer makes you find out that it has become a place no longer for normal visitors. The few people there seem to have their homes in those huts made from all manner of disused building sheets, cartons, planks and boards. Some visitors that drove down there in a silvery Honda Accord car sat with a motley clan of roughnecks sipping some drinks difficult to describe.
Some women also sat at some far end dressed in white flowing robes, supposedly the sacrifice-obsessed types of religious people. Little kids, scantily clad in dirty clothes ran around. It’s generally no longer a place to be or have fun.
Take a turn out of the gate of the sand bars, you come back to a street of most amazing residences and workshops that specialize in disused items ploughed back into use. The streets creep and brim with kids running around in bare bodies and feet. The elderly ones are the same and some little trucks come and go to pick or drop items. It’s like a market and residence lumped into one and there is no need saying that these places lack all living amenities – electricity, water, domestic sanitation, convenience etc. it definitely is an illegal settlement, but hosting quite a large population of the economically helpless and homeless.
You step back after seeing it with a deep sigh in you that Elegushi Beach is lost.
But, what took over this place? While still wondering if the government had let it out to tour operators to develop and operate, a roaming security personnel walking the entire sand zone, stepped in to explain that “this place is longer a beach. The government is sand filling it for building development. They said after filling and pushing back the water, rich people will buy the land and build big houses. So, oga, beach no go dey here again,” the man coached.
At last, land grabbing has taken the Elegushi Beach and trimmed down the fun and tourism options of Lagosians. That would be the second prominent beach in Lagos to fall to the land avarice of the government and private investors in Lagos. The first to go was the prominent Bar Beach on Victoria Island.
You would ask like many do, in the avowed quest for economy diversification, where then is the place of tourism development and contribution in the Lagos economy as the beaches are captured and taken over one after the other with housing development?