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This honesty does not bring light or water or help ease the traffic jams that plague the city. Nor does it ease the burden felt by poorer residents who know they will be pushed farther and farther away from the city center. And while it is hard to argue with the cold logic of economics, it is also difficult to see a sustainable future for a city built on the promise of quick returns. "Let's applaud the vision, that there is a vision at all, but there needs to be effective infrastructural development," says Kola Karim, CEO of Shoreline Energy International, which is headquartered in Lagos but not on the islands. "The social stigma that says that the islands are the places to be is killing business. The investors are looking at fantastic returns, not at creating an effective city. It's a difficult position, but the government has to extricate itself from the business of making money so that it creates infrastructure that's durable."
Samuel Aiye Yemi knows the government-controlled land his community lives on would bring those fantastic returns for developers. Yemi is the chairman of the neighborhood group that represents flood-affected shopkeepers like Grace Emah, and as he walks past fetid water and piles of garbage, pointing to where the drains used to be, he shrugs. "We are not against the megacity project. We embrace it. But we don't want the government to flush us out," he says.
As he picks his way around deep puddles, his weathered skin and squinting eyes crunched into a permanent scowl, Yemi passes the concrete wall of a crumbling building nearby. Painted in wide black brushstrokes on the wall is the message THIS LAND IS IN DISPUTE.
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