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Despite Earning N3,000 Per Week, Kuramo Security Officers Died Rescuing Others
Kuramo Beach, before Saturday 18 July, 2013, was known for many things. To some, it was a den of night crawlers and a place for cheap sex and prostitution, while to others it was a community where living was earned.
Yet, to others, it was simply home.However, all these were to change in the wee hours of last Saturday, when a devastating ocean surge tore through the entire community, and by the time it was over, no fewer than 16 residents of the beach had been swept away by the powerful ocean surge.
Oke Joseph, one of the security officers of the beach, who was said to be on a meagre salary of N3, 000 (sometimes less) per week, was just doing his job on that fateful Saturday morning. Little did he know that death, like a vulture, was patiently hovering around, waiting for the perfect time to strike.
According to information gathered by Saturday Tribune’s correspondent, who visited the beach a couple of times after the incident, Oke Joseph, like some of his colleagues who died in the incident, died a hero, as he was making frantic efforts to save others.
This was disclosed by Mr Steve Richard, who identified himself as a frequent fun seeker at Kuramo, and claimed to have been around when the incident happened. According to him, apart from those who were swept away from their homes by the water, no fewer than four security personnel, who had attempted to rescue some of the hapless people also died in the process.
“I can’t believe that Joseph, Olorunwa and three other security officers, who had been working for many years here are no more. They were all efficient in duty and gallant in death despite the meagre amount they were all being paid every week as salary,” Richard said.
Also corroborating this development, the secretary of the Kuramo security unit, Abey Edwards, who lost four of his colleagues in the surge, disclosed that they were all being paid just N3, 000, and sometimes less, per week, but despite this, they never complained. “If not for an act of providence, I would have died too because I was also involved in the rescue operation where I hurt my foot,” he stated, displaying his injured foot.
Speaking further, he added that, “No arrangement whatsoever has been made to take care of us. We are all on our own. Ideally, the government should have provided an alternative place for us to go. We have lost many lives; many of my friends are no more, why should we also lose our properties to a demolition exercise that was quickly carried out with little or no ultimatum given?”
Debunking claims that they were all living at Kuramo illegally, Edward further stated that, “It is not true that we were given a four-day ultimatum to evacuate, as we didn’t receive any notice to that effect. We were not living here illegally, since we didn’t just usurp the land here. Necessary occupancy arrangements, which date back to Nigeria ’99 football competition, had been made. We generate funds running into several millions of naira into the coffers of relevant Local Government, as well as the Waterfront ministry.”
A visibly sad Abey Edward lamented a report attributed to the Chairman of Etiosa Local Government and Iru-Victoria Island LCDA, Mr Abayomi Daramola, that the government knew nothing about how he or the deceased security personnel secured their security employment, insisting that they had been working at Kuramo for about four years.
While displaying what he declared as the employment file of late Joseph Oke to Saturday Tribune, Edward further noted that “We risked our lives daily for virtually nothing, and now that many of my colleagues are dead, the government denies us. This is not fair.” He insisted that the decision of the government to displace all Kuramo beach residents without any compensation package could increase crime rate in the state in the long run.
“Where do you want those who were living here and who had been displaced to go? Many of us were doing legitimate businesses here, but now that we have been thrown out with no home and no source of livelihood, is this not an invitation to crime?” Edwards queried.
Another resident, Rasheed Dosunmu, also corroborated this when he disclosed that “contrary to what had been reported in some media, no notice of evacuation was given to us. We were served nothing of such. Soon after the unfortunate incident, what we saw was a bulldozer that had been stationed close by. This was eventually used to destroy our homes. We were given very little time to pack out properties.”
It is recalled that claims attributed to the State Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Mr Segun Oniru, had stated that residents of the beach had been served a four-day notice to evacuate.
Meanwhile, many of the former occupants of the beach, who had been doing business there for many years had also been lamenting the government’s alleged insensitivity to their plights, saying no provision whatsoever had been made for their welfare.
Spotted by Saturday Tribune while trying to put together some of her property, Eunice, who used to run a bar at the beach, stated that “We were given less than one hour to move out of the beach with our belongings, but how could everything we owned be evacuated in just 45 minutes? Even before we were informed about the notice of evacuation, a bulldozer from the government was already staring at us.”
In the meantime, the Chairman of Etiosa Local Government and Iru-Victoria Island LCDA, Mr Abayomi Daramola, when paying a visit to Kuramo Beach earlier in the week, had disclosed that a sum of N50, 000 had been earmarked for each family that would like to take the corpse of their relative away to anywhere they deemed fit, but he was also quick to add that the local government would also assist in the burial of any of the victims whose families might wish to bury them in the state.
“We thank God that the death toll is not more than what was recorded. Things could have been worse if the surge had occurred when many people were still living on the beach before government’s intervention. So, the government should be lauded for making earlier efforts which have now proved useful in the reduction of the number of causalities recorded,” he disclosed.Share