By Pelu Awofeso
Lagos, fondly called Lasgidi is the bustling business hub of Nigeria. Unknown to the world and many in the local community are Lagos’s beautiful beaches and shorelines. Pelu Awofeso, Nigeria’s travel guru, wants you to take note. In this Wakaabout Series, Pelu uses the pidgin English term for “one who is always on the move”, waka about to guide you through the beautiful Tarkwa Bay beach.
Tarkwa Bay beach, is located near the Lagos Harbor. The beach is popular with swimmers and water-sports enthusiasts, and also has a welcoming resident population. The first thing I notice, besides the soothing ambiance, are dozens of eye-catching recliner seats lined up in a straight line some 25 meters from the shoreline. ‘We collect N200 for one’, the chap in charge says as I make my way to the shoreline. I will certainly need to sit in one, but not immediately. Except for a few surfers and strollers, the beach is deserted.
A breeze blows gently in the air and the waters are tame. Far in the distance, there is nothing to see—just a seemingly endless stretch of the Atlantic. A banner positioned within sight describes Tarkwa Bay beach as ‘The safest beach in Nigeria’. So how is it that a beach this cute, and supposedly safe is empty—at 2pm? ‘Most people come here on Sundays’, Lanre, a member of the Beach Management Committee, tells me when we get to talking. ‘Even today, you will see a crowd soon. It is still too early’.
I’m impressed with the idea of a beach management committee. It is novel even. Aside from the private beaches which have devised ways to keep their heads above water, not once have I heard anything like this on most other community-based beaches in Lagos.
According to Lanre, the committee was set up by the local government to ensure steady revenue, to help keep the beach in good shape. It appears the committee is barely able to meet its obligations, especially as per the necessary crowd-pulling facilities.
A large track of the beach is clean, but there are patches of filth around and about, and a wide area in a corner serves as a dumping ground for the garbage generated by beach users. ‘We used to have Lagos State Waste Management (LAWMA) disposal vessels come here regularly through the waterways to pack the dirt, but all of a sudden they stopped coming. That is why the waste is piling up ’, Lanre says.
Nothing remarkable has been done to the Lagos State beaches, in the past decade to make them more appealing to tourists, inside or outside of Nigeria.
Nevertheless, regulation and management of Tarkwa Bay in underway. In hopes that in the near future when you go to a particular beach, you know what to expect. You know who is collecting the fees and who is maintaining it—not just some haphazard arrangement.
These facilities—and grass cutting machines—are exactly what Tarkwa Bay beach needs to raise its appeal with beach lovers, and to complement the efforts of the local committee.
Pelu Awofeso is an award-winning travel journalist and blogger. See more of his travel stories here.