Under Nigeria’s famous Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, is a thriving and dangerous industry – the timber and sawmills that provide the city with its wood for housing and burning.
“There is a Yoruba proverb: there is money inside s*%t,” says Adebowale Samuel, a timber merchant in Lagos. “This is good business for those who can endure.”
The wood comes from Ondo state or as far as Delta state in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. It can take from 3 to 12 months for the wood to reach Lagos, but the salted sea water keeps the timber from rotting.
Once it reached Lagos, the saw mills cut the wood into a variety of sizes and sell on to customers.
But it’s a dangerous job:
“Let me tell you about one of the saddest days in my life,” explains Adebowale. “About 7pm, there was a worker who said he was going home, but I told to not to go home. I said he should be patient. Can you imagine for the last minute, the last wood that he carried – the guy just fell down. As if it was electric shock.”
The operator rushed down to turn off the buzz-saw, but it was too late.
“It was electric shock, but by the time we rushed the guy to hospital – he died in my arms.”