By Ola Ajayi
THERE were waillings and complaints by hundreds of Ibadan residents yesterday as the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) began demolition of illegal structures on its right of way.
Many churches, private schools and residential buildings were among the hundreds of structures demolished by bulldozers brought to the scene by the officials of the NRC.
NRC through its District Manager, Western zone, Mr. Folorunso Gbadamosi, had told newsmen that the corporation had earlier given notices since 10th March, 2009 that the owners of the illegal structures should demolish them or the NRC would dismantle the structures for them and make them pay for the demolition exercise. But he said the people dismissed the warning, thinking it was an empty threat.
When the demolition exercise started at Bodija area of Ibadan yesterday, many structures erected by commercial sex workers and traders were pulled down by the bulldozers.
In all eight churches, five schools, and five brothels, were among hundreds of structures that were pulled down during the exercise which lasted about eight hours.
Closely monitored by security operatives including police, SSS, Civil Defence, the NRC turned deaf ears to malediction of curses and abusive words being hurled at them by owners of the structures.
One of the affected owners of the demolished structures, Mr. Abiodun Owolabi, who spoke with newsmen acknowledged receipt of a notice but he complained that the officials of the NRC went beyond the 15 meters that the NRC owned.
According to him, â€œThey brought a notice that a little portion of the church would be affected by the demolition and we had started making adjustments on our own only to wake up today and see the whole church already pulled downâ€.
Churches demolished included an arm of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Resurrection Life Gospel Church.
NRC spared a church, Glory Tabernacle Church because the owners had earlier signified their willingness to carry out the demolition themselves.
Mr. Gbadamosi used the occasion to warn owners of other illegal structures at Sango-Poly Road, Omi-Adio, Aleshinloye-Iyaganku Road and Dugbe-Iyaganku Road to demolish them before the same exercise is carried out there.