By Dayo Johnson
AKUREâ€”Ondo State Government yesterday demolished all illegal structures at the Government Reserved Areas and the road sides in the state capital following the expiration of the three month notice given to the owners of such structures to remove them.
Consequently, the action of government attracted protests to the governorâ€™s office yesterday as those whose shops were demolished cried foul that they were not given notice.
Carrying placards with various inscriptions, they accused the state government of demolishing their shops in the night without allowing them to remove their wares.
But briefing newsmen in Akure while the protest was going on, the Information and Physical Planning and Urban Development Commissioners, Ranti Akerele and Kunle Ashaolu respectively said though the removal of the illegal structures and shanties were painful but government had no choice but to open up the state capital.
Akerele said Akure metropolis did not reflect the look of a state capital, following several illegal structures that dotted â€œeverywhereâ€.
The Commissioner, however, said the state governor had instructed that before people were displaced an alternative should be provided for them.
According to him, the state government has gone on the Radio and Television to educate and sensitize the traders and market women of the need to relocate to the alternative places provided by government.
He said the agents of government have removed the illegal structures that dotted government reserved areas of the state, adding that the exercise is continuous.
He pointed out that government has already constructed 240 shops as an alternative market for those displaced in the PHCN market while those at Oja Oba would move to the new neighbourhood market at Afunbiowo area.
Also speaking the Physical Planning and Urban Development Commissioner, Ashaolu said government engaged the services of town criers and radio jingles to sensitize the people.
Ashaolu said the present administration was only correcting the illegalities of the past administration in allowing illegal structures in government reserved areas and the road sides .
According to him, â€œThere is no place in the world where government would allow its GRA to be dotted with illegal shanties or allow traders cause chaotic traffic congestion on its major roads because of their activities.
â€œWe served them a three-month notice and our officials were constantly in touch with them to remind them of the need to remove their structures before the expiration of the notice but they would not listen.â€
He pointed out that 1,700 owners of such illegal structures and shanties dotting the state capital were served notices.
Ashaolu vowed that there is no going back in the demolition exercise, adding that the state government has the political will to carry out the redevelopment of the state capital..
The Commissioner said the exercise would continue and appealed to owners of such illegal structures already served with notice by government to comply adding that, â€œit is time for rapid implementation of such notices.â€
He equally expressed concern over the Oja Oba market constructed by the immediate past governor Olusegun Agagu saying that the market which has 900 stalls has no toilet and parking space, adding that some structural defects were also noticed.
Ashaolu said the governor had visited the Oja Oba twice and following the structural defects has set up a committee to look into it and submit a report on what to do with the market.