Residents of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) Low Income Estate on Oba Ogunji Road, Agege, have protested against the plan of the government to demolish blocks of flats on the estate without relocation or compensation plan.
The residents, who included pensioners, spoke with newspaperson Tuesday, saying they were in distress as they had nowhere to go if the government went ahead with the plan to demolish 18 flats on the estate.
They said their fear was heightened by the recent demolition of 30 shops and offices in the neighbourhood.
Our correspondent was told that the residents had been invited for a stakeholders’ meeting on Friday, September 8, 2017, where some government officials from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development informed them of the plan to build a flyover in the area.
A few weeks later, some governmrnt workers were reported to have marked some shops in the area and a part of the estate for demolition.
A bakery owner, Adedamola Adekoya, who owns a flat on the estate, said his bakery shop had already been demolished.
He said, “They gave us a notice to submit our documents within seven days. After the seven days, they returned with their bulldozers and started demolishing structures.
“The notice they gave us was to bring documents for discussion. But they demolished the shops instead. No agency has come to talk to us about relocation or compensation. And these were shops we bought from the LSDPC with Certificates of Occupancy. When we called the LSDPC, some officials said they were not aware of the demolition.”
Mrs. Edward Igbidenion, the occupant of Block 92, Flat Three, said she was confused.
“Three weeks ago, the officials came from the state secretariat, Alausa, to mark houses for demolition. At first, they said they would remove the fences. Later, they returned and said they would cut the buildings into two. We don’t know what they want to do. I have nowhere to go. My husband bought the flat from the government. We are just asking for relocation,” she said.
A representative of the children of late Mr. and Mrs. Nwigwe, John Oparaji, told newsmen that the deceased’s four children were still living in the apartment.
He explained that if the house was demolished without any relocation plan, the children’s future could be jeopardised.
“The children are still of school age. I am their uncle. If the government wants to expand the road, we are not against it, but there should be a relocation plan. These children have been in panic since they got to know about the demolition. We are begging the government not to allow their parents’ services to the state to be in vain,” he said.
The son of late Professor Olu Awojobi, Yemi, said his mother, who was in her 80s, lived in one of the flats and was in the custody of a caregiver.
He said although the octogenarian had been moved to the one-room apartment of the caregiver in the interim, he was worried.
“It is not an arrangement I desire for her because it is distressful. How can a woman of that age be undergoing such trauma. This is bad,” he added.
The residents’ lawyer, Gabriel Opayinka, said the estate was built by a former governor of the state, Gbolahan Mudashiru, and administered by the LSDPC.
He said, “These structures are not obstructing any right of way; they were built by the government and sold by the state. Those living in the blocks are mostly retirees; people who worked for the state government all their lives.
“The question is, can the government build on the right of way? The people in the flats have leases of 99 years and they have only spent about 27 years. The shops have 50 years lease. If the government wants to demolish, it should relocate them to a neighbouring government-owned estate. But the government is not doing that.
“I have written letters to the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, and the Commissioner for the Environment. We are looking at all the options available and if they don’t listen to us or engage the people, we will have to go to court.”
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )