Abidjan slum-dwellers left homeless after houses razed to build new bridge


Residents of Boribana are still looking through the rubble for their belongings, four days after bulldozers demolished part of Boribana, one of the biggest slums in Ivory Coast's capital Abidjan. On 29 November, a large swath of Boribana, which has a population of nearly 60,000, was destroyed.

The Ivorian government decided to demolish the shanty town in order to build a fourth bridge in the area, situated on the shores of Ebrié Lagoon. The proposed 1.4 km-long bridge would link the Plateau, a business district, with Yopougon, the largest communes in the capital's suburbs, which has 5 million residents. The plans aim to relieve congestion in the north of the city.

Destruction in the Boribana neighbourhood in the Attécoubé commune after bulldozers destroyed multiple houses.
Photo taken by our Observer Lookman. 



“No one believed it”The project had begun on 30 July 2018, but the eviction was a surprise to residents. One of our Observers in Abidjan, Lookman (not his real name), went to the site to see what was happening.
 

According to several residents, the town authorities came only the day before to inform residents that their homes were going to be demolished. No one believed it. But then two diggers arrived the next day and demolished a big part of the neighbourhood. It's total destruction here. Everyone is stressed. Some people's homes avoided demolition for the time being, and they're now taking off the rooves. Others are saving what they can from the rubble.

Boribana is a big shanty town built haphazardly on the edge of the Ebrié Lagoon. There was no urbanisation plan before. It's a no-build area, home to workers and taxi drivers from disadvantaged backgrounds. It's not a safe neighbourhood.

Some residents pick through the rubble to save what they can. Photo taken by Lookman.
 
A lot of the home-owners and residents had been receiving compensation from the government since May to help them move elsewhere. But people thought that the state was going to give them more time. They received on average 300,000 CFA  [roughly €460]. Some people refused to leave because they thought the amount wasn't enough. They would have preferred that the government gave them new houses rather than just giving them money.

Lots of people don't know where to go. Some are moving to another disadvantaged neighbourhood in Adjamé while they try to find a more sustainable solution. It's quite sad.
 


A section of the neighbourhood already demolished in 2014

The construction of Abdijan's fourth bridge is financed by a 103 billion CFA loan [almost €156 million] from the African Development Bank. More than 30 billion CFA [ almost €46 million] of that was meant to be used to compensate residents.

Residents carry salvaged rooves from their homes. Photo taken by Lookman.


Salimata Coulibaly, the vice-coordinator of Abidjan's urban transport projects, told news agency AFP that “the demolished buildings belonged to owners who had already received their eviction compensation [...]. There could be some that were missed. There are offices that can take care of the issue."

It's not the first time that the Boribana neighbourhood has been subject to eviction orders. In 2014, one part of the area was demolished after a landslide caused by floods. 

Article by Hermann Boko (@HermannBoko).