News VOICES from the Shanties: Deepening Citizen Engagement in Ogere Trailer Park Community

September 29, 2017by Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa0

A yard in the community, where trailers and articulated vehicles in transit are parked. Ayotola Tehingbola/Amplify

In a bid to project the voices of forgotten people and underserved communities in Nigeria, Amplify, an emerging civic-tech organisation embarked on a two-day outreach to Ogere Trailer Park community, Ogun State. The community located in Ikenne local government along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has a viable informal economy that is based on the enterprising efforts of men and women engaged in petty trade and medium scale business.

Monthly, the Ogun State government reportedly rakes in hundreds of millions through internally generated-revenue from this community. But despite its contributions to the economy of the state, it has been relatively neglected. Residents continually decry the lack of basic amenities and a casual observation will reveal that the slum settlement begs for attention as people live in shacks and shanties without access to potable water and no single school for scores of children living there.

Images of shacks depicting the poor living conditions of residents 

“The purpose of reaching out to Ogere Trailer Park is to capture critical developmental needs of the community through engagement and interaction with residents. This is with the aim of unearthing underreported issues that border on the welfare of the people and to engage government and relevant development stakeholders to intervene for sustainable development,” says Dotun Olutoke, the Lead Partner of Amplify.

Documentary photojournalist, Ayotola Tehingbola accompanied Amplify’s team to capture sights, scenes and human-angle photographs which reflect the plights of the people while community leaders and residents narrated sorry tales of their collective needs, rooted in poor infrastructures and utter neglect by the government.

“We were received warmly by the Seriki, the leader of the Hausa community, who showed a keen interest in our work in the community as he assigned a bilingual guide to take us around the community and engage with men and women whose lives mirror stark underdevelopment.”

The engagement with the community members unveiled some uninspiring realities staring the slum community in the face – poor sanitation and drainage system, scarcity of water, high taxes, no access to medical care, poor housing units and dilapidated road networks. On several occasions, the government has embarked on forced demolitions, pulling down market stalls, shops, make-shift houses on the premise that they are illegal.

A deplorable road in the community, waterlogged due to lack of a proper drainage system.

Segun Odus, a spokesperson for the Yoruba community bare his mind sadly on the manner in which residents are intimidated and forced to part away with their possessions during demolition operations. “In a single day, gun-carrying policemen acting on the directives of the state government accompanied bulldozers to destroy my 24 shops. All we need in this community is peace of mind.”

Efforts in getting the Parks Manager to comment on how government manages revenue generated from the traders proved abortive as he declined to speak, maintaining that all enquiries on developments in the community should be addressed to Ogun State Parks and Garage Development Board.

“In our bid to ensure the plight of the people in this community is not forgotten, we travelled to Abeokuta, Ogun State with the intention of engaging the General Manager of the Ogun State Parks and Garages Development Board. With a letter delivered to the Board office in GRA Abeokuta, we requested to know how revenues generated from the Park are managed and how the government plans to upgrade Ogere Trailer Park community and position it for more economic prosperity,” Olutoke explains.

A copy of the letter written to the Parks and Garage Development Board, Abeokuta

 

Leveraging the potentials of technology to reach wider audiences, pictures showing the poor welfare conditions of the community were shared online through interactive tweets, generating comments from the public while creating visibility for the community.

Notable is the engagement we had with Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, the legislator representing Ikenne/Shagamu/Remo North constituency in the Federal House of Representatives. In his reply to Amplify’s tweet on the state of Ogere Trailer community, he highlights his awareness of the poor welfare state of the people.

Twitter comment by Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, expressing awareness of the state of the community. @amplify_ng

“With these moves, we are opening  channels of engagement and we will continue to amplify the voices of people in underserved communities by giving active citizens access to actionable information that they can use to hold government accountable for sustainable interventions.

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