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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thousands Lose Homes, Shops, As Demolition Wave Hits Lagos

We Are Giving Way To Development, They Were Warned — Lagos Govt .We Were Not Given Time, Home Owners Cry Out

Many residents of Ishawo and Igbogbo communities in Ikorodu, Lagos watched helplessly as their houses get demolished by heavy duty machinery yesterday. The demolition is obviously being commissioned by the state government.

This, however, is not a senseless demolition by the government. The demolition is to give way to a six-lane express road, which was announced by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode earlier in the year.

Our reporter on ground says despite the development the road will bring to the area, the people of the Ishawo are not happy with the demolitions that took place. Some even claimed that they were not informed about the demolitions and they were surprised to see bulldozers moving in on their property.

Taye Adigun, a carpenter in the area says that his shop was destroyed without any warning. “I did not know anything about any demolition. I just came this morning and my shop is gone. What is paining me is that all my tools were bulldozed away. I am searching for them one by one in the destroyed house.”

Though Adigun and others claim that they were not informed ahead of time, INDEPENDENT reported that the Lagos State government had advised property owners in the area on Right of Way Alignment of Igbogbo-Bola Ahmed Tinubu- Igbe road in Igbogbo-Bayeku Local Council Development Area.

When confronted with this, some of those who lost homes say they were aware that the road would be constructed, but they did not know exactly where it would pass through. “Many of us don’t know that it will pass through our houses. I thought it was just something that they will take front of my house, I did not know that it would actually get to my house,” says Fowoyo James whose house was demolished.

Fatai, a tenant of one of the broken house, said that it was the timing of the demolition that does not go down well with him. “Yes, we were told, but at least they should have given us an exact date. We were expecting them to come after the holiday. I was not ready for this he said, while looking over his demolished shop.”

The demolition also took away some of the iconic land marks of the area. On of such is the oldest church which is one of the oldest in the whole of Ikorodu.

The road before the current expansion going on had become a nightmare for residents especially during the rainy season, when the only available means of transport will be commercial motorcycle popularly called Okada.

The governor had noted that the road, aside opening up the council for residential and commercial activities, will improve public safety through reduction in travel time, vehicle maintenance and transportation cost leading finally to an overall better standard of living. Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives, Rotimi Ogunleye, also said that the road will serve as a link to Ijede, Gberigbe, Imota where the state government has established a rice mill turning out 32 milliom metric tons daily and an industrial park.

The Agric/Ishawo road has been commissioned far back 1973 by the Federal Government as an express way, which leads to the Lagos – Ibadan express road. Unfortunately for some people, their houses, worship places and business centers are on the pathway of the new road.

Also seeing massive demolition is the Agege axis of Lagos. The Lagos State government on Monday began the removal of structures on the right of way to pave way for the ongoing construction of the Pen Cinema flyover in Agege local government area as well as other major network of roads in the state.

Most of these structures include houses, shops and business centres. In a statement by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Tpl. Abiola Anifowo, she said the government had in recent time held stakeholders’ meetings with owners of properties that had to give way for the construction of the affected areas and had given assurance of adequate compensation.

According to Anifowoshe, “Before we remove any structure in Lagos State, the state government would first hold stakeholders’ meeting with the affected property owners within their domain to obtain their buy-in and commitment towards the projects.

A woman who was crying and swearing at the demolition workers had this to say, “I do not have any property or shop there, but that place (points at one of the demolished portions is where I sell ‘wanke’ (a rice dish) every morning. It is from the money I send my two girls to school. Where will I get another space like that? All my customers know me, but will they because of my food trek distance? They will not. They will only go and look for another place to eat. As I am speaking with you, I am not happy.”

Despite many criticisms, many others we spoke with were happy about the Agege project. To them, it will ease movement in the area. “I thank Ambode for this bridge, he is trying to build. We have suffered too much on this road. Every night, I get home by 11 pm sometimes 12. Is that how a human being should live? I am sure by the time they finish the road, the holdup will reduce.

The state government also acknowledged that some buildings were removed without compensation and they have asked all those affected to reach the appropriate authorities.

The commissioner said, “I urged all affected property owners to submit the following documents for the ease of processing the payment of compensation by the state government. The documents include; Certified registered title documents of properties within the said right of way, approved planning permit for the affected buildings, and other relevant documents.”

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