Sunday, April 5, 2020

This is not the best of times to die, Lagos funeral home operators say as bodies pile up in mortuaries

From one end of Lagos to the other, funeral home operators, casket makers and mortuary attendants have the same story: ‘COVID-19 has locked us out of business,’

As public and private cemeteries in Lagos suspend burial activities in compliance with the restriction of movement imposed by the Federal Government, there are reports that the number of corpses in mortuaries is gradually piling up.

Punch HealthWise visited Atan Cemetery, Yaba; Apena Cemetery, Ebute Metta; Okesuna Cemetery, Adeniji Adele; BMC Private Cemetery, Yaba and Ikoyi Cemetery, Obalende.


All the graveyards visited by their correspondent are devoid of the usual fanfare that attends burial activities.

At Atan, probably the oldest cemetery in Nigeria having been built in 1868, has been contending with congestion for a while, workers said. They said it currently has little spaces available for interment, and that the tombs were clustered too close to one another owing to the inadequacy of spaces.

Over the years, a larger portion of the graveyard has been secured and run by BMC and Ebony Casket Ventures as private vaults for the elite.

Speaking with Punch correspondent, the custodian of Atan graveyard who identified himself simply as Alhaji Sanni attributed the lack of activities at the graveyard to the ongoing COVID-19-induced curfew.

“We have stopped allowing people to bring corpses for burial here. This will continue until the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government is over.”

Sanni said those who plan to bury loved ones would have to endure a bit by depositing their bodies at the morgue until the lockdown is over.

“The closest mortuaries to us here are both in Mainland Hospital in Yaba and General Hospital in Lagos Island. There is also the other option of cremation, even though most Nigerians frown at it,” Sanni said.

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