“This is Lagos”

December 11, 2007

The bridge then passes the sawmill district, where rain-forest logs—sent across from the far shore, thirty miles to the east—form a floating mass by the piers. Smoldering hills of sawdust landfill send white smoke across the bridge, which mixes with diesel exhaust from the traffic. Beyond the sawmills, the old waterfront markets, the fishermen’s shanties, the blackened façades of high-rise housing projects, and the half-abandoned skyscrapers of downtown Lagos Island loom under a low, dirty sky. Around the city, garbage dumps steam with the combustion of natural gases, and auto yards glow with fires from fuel spills. All of Lagos seems to be burning.The bridge descends into Lagos Island and a pandemonium of venders’ stalls crammed with spare parts, locks, hard hats, chains, screws, charcoal, detergent, and DVDs. On a recent afternoon, car horns, shouting voices, and radio music mingled with the snarling engines of motorcycle taxis stalled in traffic and the roar of an air compressor in an oily tire-repair yard.

The Megacity: The New Yorker, via metafilter.

IEEE feature on megacities. Wikipedia on ‘megacity’. Wikipedia on Lagos. UN Report on Urban growth. Official website of the Lagos State government. CIA World Factbook entry. Latest news from Nigeria. Official website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria.


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