Evicted: Ivory Coast Mega Highway Displaces Thousands

Collection with 24 media items created by Patrick

20 Oct 2014 22:00

After more than a decade of violence and political unrest, Ivory Coast is experiencing important investments from foreign nations in an attempt to encourage economic growth in the country. But while government projects will allegedly benefit the population, some people suffer from evictions that are pushing many Ivoirians from their homes to make room for high-visibility infrastructure projects.

In October, the country announced a $114 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China at two-percent interest over 20 years to finance a six-lane motorway construction linking Abidjan to the historical city of Grand-Bassam, 30 km to the east.

Gonzagueville belongs to the Port Bouet commune, in the outskirts of the capital. All of the buildings in the suburb of Abidjan have been demolished to make way for the construction of the Abidjan-Grand Bassam motorway.

According to witnesses, police officers arrived early in the morning in the southern coastal suburb of Gonzagueville and burned down several tents, threatening residents and telling them to leave the premises immediately. “Some of us were woken up at 5 A.M,” they say, “and told we had one hour to leave.”

Residents say the government didn't set an official date for them to leave by. They proposed to start next summer to avoid disrupting the school year, but the government refused.
Several miles of houses in Gonzagueville, among other areas, were taken down as part of a $114 million project aimed at developing the tourist sector along Ivory Coast's south coast and help ease congestion in the capital Abidjan.

The Ivoirian government has planned to pay $6.5 million in compensations to relocate the people living in these areas. However many say they haven’t received the money they were promised and are living among the debris of what used to be their homes.

Isaac is a traditional healer. He has no place to go and is staying with a friend. He hasn't been able to work ever since he was evicted due to the lack of space at his friend’s place.

Another resident evicted, Viviane is moving back to her home country, Ghana. She says she hasn't received any compensation. “And even if I did, it would not be enough to buy a new home.”

People claim that residents living in shanties and tents across the coastline in Gonzagueville are constantly threatened by local authorities to leave the area. Those lucky enough move in with friends, but most of those displaced by the demolitions have no place to go and are forgotten by local authorities.

Assouan Carine says that she and her mother were living in a tent with six more families until local authorities burned it down.

Before being evicted, residents remove literally everything from their homes, including the roof, to use it in their future houses. However, several families have no place to go and are surviving among debris in unhealthy environments. Improvised camps can be found across the coastline in Gonzagueville, often hosting multiple families, who struggle to have access to the most basic needs, like clean water.

Most children can't go back to school and have to stay home in the rubble of their former township with their families and help search for steel and re-sellable metal in abandoned houses.

Hotels, churches and gas stations were also taken down. Some crosses are set by residents in the sand across the coastline to mark the former emplacement of churches.

Many other projects are being undertaken by the government – including roads, housing and infrastructure upgrades - to boost the already high production of rubber and cocoa. Ivory Coast is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, and its economic capital Abidjan is known as Western Africa's Paris.

Ivory Coast Adbijan Motorway Highway Poverty Evictions Forced Evict...

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Title photo for the collection
Abidjan demolitions 01
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
20 Oct 2014

Gonzagueville belongs to the Port Bouet commune. All of the buildings in the suburb of Abidjan have been demolished to make way for the construction of the Abidjan-Grand Bassam motorway.

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Abidjan demolitions 02
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
24 Oct 2014

On October 2011, Ivory Coast signed an agreement with China that will help finance a massive highway construction project.

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Abidjan demolitions 03
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
16 Oct 2014

Ivory Coast is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, and it's economic capital Abidjan is known as Western Africa's Paris.

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Abidjan demolitions 04
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Before being evicted, residents remove literally everything from their homes, including the roof, to use it in their future houses.

Abidjan demolitions 05
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Several families have no place to go and are surviving among debris in unhealthy environments.

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Abidjan demolitions 06
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Most children can't go back to school and have to stay home in the rubble of their former township with their families.

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Abidjan demolitions 07
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Dao Lassana stands in what used to be his bedroom. As a landlord he was supposed to received around $284 in compensation from the government.

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Abidjan demolitions 08
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
20 Oct 2014

Viviane is moving back to her home country, Ghana. She hasn't received any compensation; and even if she did, it would not be enough to buy a new home.

Abidjan demolitions 09
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
21 Oct 2014

Isaac is a traditional healer. He has no place to go and is staying with a friend. He hasn't been able to work ever since he was evicted due to the lack of space.

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Abidjan demolitions 10
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
20 Oct 2014

Assouan Carine (left) and her mother were living in a tent with 6 more families until local authorities burned it down.

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Abidjan demolitions 11
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
20 Oct 2014

According to witnesses, police officers burned down several tents and threatened residents, telling them to leave the premises immediately.

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Abidjan demolitions 12
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Improvised camps can be found across the coastline in Gonzagueville, often hosting multiple families.

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Abidjan demolitions 13
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

A boy smokes fish in a makeshift oven amid the ruins of Gonzagueville. People living in shanties and tents across the coastline here are constantly threatened by local authorities to leave the area.

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Abidjan demolitions 14
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Those lucky enough move in with friends, but most of those displaced by the demolitions have no place to go and are forgotten by local authorities.

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Abidjan demolitions 15
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
17 Oct 2014

Access to clean water is limited. A man seeks water in one of the few functioning wells in the area.

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Abidjan demolitions 16
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

A ruined building and field of rubble are all that is left of Gonzagueville in Port Bouet.

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Abidjan demolitions 17
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

Residents collect everything they can to use in their future homes.

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Abidjan demolitions 18
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

Right after the bulldozers left, Gonzagueville became an open scrap market. Reinforcing steel bars can be sold at 2$ per kilo.

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Abidjan demolitions 19
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

Restoring the coastline is an essential part of the project. The government expects to boost tourism in this forgotten area.

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Abidjan demolitions 20
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

Hotels, churches and gas stations were also taken down. Local children search for steel and re-sellable metal in this abandoned swimming pool.

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Abidjan demolitions 22
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

Crosses set in the sand across the coastline mark the former emplacement of churches.

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Abidjan demolitions 23
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
18 Oct 2014

According to residents the government didn't set an official date for them to leave by. They proposed to start next summer to avoid disrupting the school year, but the government refused. Some were woken up at 5 A.M. and told they had one hour to leave.

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Abidjan demolitions 24
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
By Patrick
24 Oct 2014

The new motorway is expected to be ready in March 2015.