Monday, 3 October 2016

Residents decry plan to demolish buildings, shops

Afeez Hanafi

Residents of the Abule Egba area of Lagos State have lamented government’s plan to demolish more buildings in the community over the ongoing bridge construction in the area.

They said the Ministry for Physical Planning and Urban Development had earlier marked the frontage of some buildings by the roadsides for demolition but recently extended the marking by about 30 metres.

Dwellers and shop owners, who spoke with PUNCH Metro on Sunday, said the second marking indicated that many of them would be displaced and rendered jobless.

They urged the government to rescind the planned demolition and stuck to the former 64-metre extension reportedly contained in the layout of the construction.

The Secretary, Abule Egba Landlords’ Association, Mr. Olawole Olanrewaju, said the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Wasiu Anifowoshe, had met with residents but did not discuss the new extension at the meeting.

He said, “The Lagos State Government has decided to demolish our property. Sixty four metres was initially measured on both sides of the road. On September 22 – two days after the commissioner held a meeting with us – it was extended to 91.44 metres.

“The commissioner only told us at the meeting that the bridge, the two service lanes and the drainage channel, have been constructed but only remains the walkway and streetlight. All these constructions conformed to the initial 64-metre marking.

“We are pleading with the state and federal governments to have mercy on us. If the demolition is carried out up to the second marking, it will render about 1,000 people jobless; parents and their children will be homeless.”

A woman, Alhaja Fausat Atobajaiye, said her 90-year-old mother, Suebatu, collapsed when she learnt that their residence would be demolished.

“We rushed her to a hospital in Ijoko (Ogun State). The marking has caused a lot of tension. Most of these landlords are elderly persons, who can no longer work to acquire another property,” she added.

A 55-year-old widow and resident of Santos Avenue, Mrs. Grace Santos, said, “According to the present marking, half of my building will be affected. My shop at 382 Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway is also affected. I have five children and all of them are still in school.”

Another shop owner, Alhaja Alimat Kosoko, said the demolition, if carried out, would compound the hardship caused by the present economic situation.

She said, “We know that the infrastructure is meant to serve us but a major demolition like this should not be sudden. There should be negotiation. We are already in pain because of the present economic situation; they should not compound it. Where will we start from?”

An estate agent and community leader, Alhaji Abagbaje Bolarinwa, whose firm was also marked, said more than 50 houses and about 1,500 shops would be affected by the demolition.

Seventy-two-year-old Alhaji Abdulsalam Amsat, said his two houses, four shops and three burial grounds within one of the houses, were affected.

The physical planning commissioner, Anifowoshe, in response to a text message sent to his phone, said, “Talk to officials of the ministry of works. We are following their drawings, thanks.”

In a notice served on one of the property owners and obtained by our correspondent, the ministry of works stated that the marked structures encroached on the “right of way.”

The notice, dated September 22, 2016, and signed by one F.A. Danboyi on behalf of the ministry’s permanent secretary, read in part, “Following the acquisition and official gazette of the 91.44 metre right of way of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway (Public Lands Acquisition Act, Chapter 167, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) for the purpose of infrastructural improvement and subsequent expansion. Your floor structure is confirmed to fall within the ‘service corridor designate’ by 24.3 metres.

“Consequently, the affected portion is to be removed to pave way for the road expansion. In view of the above, I am to request that you submit copies of all documents supporting your claim to the property to the permanent secretary within seven days of serving this notice.”

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