Friday, 30 August 2013

Fish Farmers Forcefully Evicted in Lagos

A group of fish farmers operating in Agric area of Ojo Local government are calling on the Lagos state government to intervene in their forceful eviction from there farm. The fish farm which is located along the Badagry expressway has been operational for about twenty years on a ten acres of land and has fifty-three fish farmers operating in it.

According to the spokesperson for the fish farmers under the auspices of Ayoola Multipurpose co-operative, Mrs. Bolatito Oyinloye they were forcefully evicted without any prior notice and were given twenty-four hours to vacate the farm with their fishes. This she explained was a big shock as harvesting of fish from a pond is not that easy to unite within such short notice. Mrs. Oyinloye said as the farmers were still contemplating what to do, heavily armed police men and military men stormed the fish farm and told all the farmers to vacate the land with immediate effect.

When our correspondent visited the fish farm it was observed that bulldozers and trucks were seen transporting sand to the farm in preparation for construction. Information gathered also revealed that the land was acquired for the building of a housing estate project. In a phone interview with our correspondent, the caretaker and manager of the fish farm who the fish farmers have been paying to said they were not giving enough information about the sale of the land but alleged that the farmers were aware of the eviction.

The fish farmers said they have been paying rent to the caretaker and were treated as illegal occupants as they were not able to harvest there fishes from the fish pond. This they lamented has rendered them jobless and with no other source of livelihood. The head of the youth fish farmers Chibuike Igwe expressed disappointment that he went into agriculture as he could not get a job after graduating from the university and now his only source of income has been taken from him. He said that how can youths be expected to go into agriculture when they are not encouraged and supported by the society and government. According to him we provide fish to most restaurants and relaxation spots within this area, and as far as Badagry,Mushin, Victoria Island. Most of our customers are now stranded as they have been patronizing this fish farm for years. 

The Programme Director of a Non-governmental organization Human and Environment Development Agenda HEDA, Mr. Sulaiman Arigbabu that has been working with the fish farmers in its small scale farmers empowerment Programme appealed to the Lagos Ministry of Agriculture to intervene in the plight of the fish farmers as they contribute to ensuring food security in the state. Mr. Arigbabu urged the state government to relocate the fish farmers and ensure the fish farmers are compensated by the land owner for there losses as most of them are counting there loss because there fishes are dying daily. He also alleged that the policemen stationed to guard the fish farm are also harvesting the fishes from the pond for their personal use.

Reports has it that 70% of food consumed in Nigeria are produced by small scale farmers. It would be necessary for the state government in the situation of the fish farmers who supply fish to residents of the state.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Diary of a Nomadic Journalist:My Iberia Experience.

Most times that I go online to check for flights I have always noticed that Iberia airways was quite cheaper than other airlines. When I decided to travel to the US for summer, Iberia was my best option because of its low air fare. I went online booked my flight and after 72 hours (3days) I paid; as that was the maximum time a booked fight can be valid before it is cancelled if there was no payment. I was able to get a good price since I was booking my flight four months to the date of travel. The cost of my flight was #100,000 cheaper compare with what I paid to when I travelled in 2012.

Along the line, I decided to change my booking few weeks to my trip. I went online to modify my flight but I was directed to call the customer care. When I called the customer care, after 25 minutes of back and forth questions, I was told my flight could not be changed or cancelled, and I could not be refunded. When I asked, they said the terms and conditions attached to my booking did not allow for any change.

What will I say? I was forced to travel against my wish. So I had two weeks to travel or I forfeit $1500. For me it was a mixed feeling as I wanted to travel in October because my plan was to book against october, for a conference I was planning to attend in Spain. As I planned my trip, some of my friends told me that "Iberia is as good as boarding the famous Lagos Molue buses. So I made up my mind for the worst of travel experience.

Iberia airways is the official airline of Spain and flies to twenty-one destinations fourteen in Spain and seven overseas. All the flights begin, end or connect at Madrid-Barajas airport. Iberia airways is a member of the ONE WORLD: an alliance of the world's leading airlines that travel across 850 destinations worldwide.

So since all Iberia flights begin, end or connect at Madrid-Barajas airport, my flight to US was also routed that way: Lagos-Madrid-Boston. From Muritala Mohammed International Airport MMIA on the day of my departure, the boarding gate was changed without prior notice. We the passengers were seated at D43 which was what was printed on my ticket, but boarding was going on opposite at D33. After all the checking and boarding , we left Lagos finally.  For me my mind was prepared for whatever my over five hours experience of Lagos-Madrid would be.

The blanket given to us was as good as an advanced toilet paper. The colour which was navy blue was even more depressing. I had to begged a passenger to give me his own he is not using so I won't catch cold. To my surprise the plane had no television. A five hour flight without television? That was a rude shock! So when dinner was served it brought smiles to my face. Steaming jollof rice with tomato sauced chicken. I said ok, not bad for dinner. I demolished it before I knew. Unlike myself, I could be a racist when it comes to food. But the Iberia food pack was a delight in every bite, I so enjoyed it that I was almost an Oliver Twist. The host/hostess were also courteous and tried their best to make us enjoy the "TV-less" flight. But I noticed they delayed in collecting the trash after meals. For me this was a minus, when I was not saving the trash for refundable recycling. There was no toiletry kit.

We arrived Madrid five minutes before the actual arrival time. I had seven hours of waiting time before my connecting flight to Boston. For me it was as good as been on duty for seven hours morning shift. The airport is beautiful with enough convenience at almost every block. There was an announcement every twenty minutes from speakers fitted round the airport about safety, security and encouraging passengers to check the screen monitor for their flight as there could be a flight modification or change of boarding gates.

After my seven hours waiting shift, we took off for Boston. This time around the blanket was a bit thicker and the colour was different, a mix of brown and cream. The lunch pack was great: meat balls with potatoes and other side attractions. I ate as if I had a personal target of eradicating extreme hunger before arriving Boston. In this particular flight which was seven hours, there was television but they were placed in sections with an audio-station port fitted to every seat.

Before that trip I had severe throat itching and cold. But after I drank Iberia coffee I felt a big relieve. I ordered more coffee and tea to sustain how I felt. For me the Iberia experience was not as bad as I expected but I believe there is great room for improvement. For long hour flights they could use very comfortable planes with personalized entertainment system. The trash should be cleared after each meal. For the night flights toiletry kits should be given to passengers to enable them freshen up when they arrive their destination. If this can be improved on, I believe Iberia airways can compete with other world class airlines in making passengers experience a travel delight to look forward to.