By Ifeoma Ekeke
Although Saturday, May 29, was observed as environmental sanitation day in Lagos, most residents of Orile Iganmu defied the restriction of movement order to observe the final demolition of the pedestrian bridge at Orile Bus-stop on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
Two weeks earlier, Messrs Julius Berger Plc, the contractor handling the construction of the multi-billion Naira 10-lane expressway had issued a notice informing users of the road of its closure between 6am and 2pm on that day (May 29). Motorists going to Lagos Island were requested to use the Alaba -Ijora Road during the period of closure. Vanguard Metro learnt that the demolition lasted for only about one hour -between the hours of 8am and 9 am.
A resident of the area who witnessed the demolition,Â Mr Ilesanmi Olakunle told Vanguard Metro that a large crowd gathered to see how the construction giants employed their state-of-the-art equipment to pull down the bridge which the same company constructed barely five years ago.
The demolition of the bridge has changed the entire Orile landscape as you can hardly discern where the popularÂ bus- stop is. It takes the combined team of LASTMA officials and the Police to stop speeding vehicles in order to allow pedestrians cross to the other side of the expanded road.
Mr Kenneth Opara who resides in Coker Village in the nearby neighbourhood prayed that the expansion of the road would reduce the traffic bottleneck in the area. MrÂ Opara who noted the difficulty in crossing the expressway, called on the government to ensure that the pedestrian bridge is rebuilt while new ones should be built at strategic bus-stops along the road. This view was also echoed by a businessman in the area who identified himself as Opeyemi Oluapelumi.
One of the market women who simply identified herself as Aminat said the demolition of the bridge has affected her source of income because she hawked her wares atop the bridge.
â€œThe demolition of the bridge has affected me because I have been making my daily bread there since year 2000. Right now, I move around with my goods,â€Aminat who hawks shoes said. Other traders at Orile Bus-stop noted that although they got wind of the demolition of the bridge about six months ago, they didnâ€™t anticipate it would happen so soon.
They advised the government to take urgent steps to rebuild the bridge which, according to them, is the only place where they stay and hawk their wares.Â An official of Julius Berger explained that company chose May 29 for the demolition because it was a public holiday with the attendant light traffic.
Ayobo demolition: Victims petition Fashola
Landlords whose houses were recently demolished in Atan-Nla,Â Ayobo in Ayobo – Ipaja Local Council Development Area (LDCA)of Lagos State by the Ministry of the Environment have petitioned Governor Babatunde Fashola, pleading toÂ be relocated to a new site.
Alternatively, they implored the state government for compensation â€œto help us resettleâ€ elsewhere.
The LCDA chairman, Mr Bisi Yusuf, had been accused of instigating the demolition of the houses in concert withÂ some officials of the state Ministry of the Environment.The action was alleged to be preparatory to selling the parcel of land to a nearby church which plans to use it as a carÂ park. But some LCDA officials said the demolition was to pave the way for the establishment of an amusement park.
The victims, in their letter, dated May 17, 2010 and copied to Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA Chairman, the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly and former Governor Bola Tinubu, said over 100 structures and buildings were demolished while over 500 people were displaced.
â€œWe want to appeal to you to kindly use your good office to ameliorate our suffering,â€ they said, hinging their plea for relocation to a new site or compensation to an agreement with the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs at a stakeholders meeting.
The letter of the victims, who wrote under the aegis of Atan-Nla community Development Association, read: â€œ We are displaced occupiers of a vast area of land at Atan- Nla in Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA. Although the said area lies under PHCN high tension cable, many of us were already on ground before the PHCN installed their high tension masts and cables. We all leased lands in the said space from the families of Fatona, Odewale, and Owolabi who are the original land owners
â€œOn the 25th day of April, 2010, we were taken aback when bulldozers came purportedly from the Ministry of Environment Alausa to demolish and destroy our houses and all our means of livelihood. The said action we learnt is to pave way for the construction of an international amusement park by the state government.
We as ordinary Lagosians and for the fact that we would encourage any development project brought to our area have no problems whatsoever with this laudable plan ofÂ government. In fact, we are very grateful to your Excellency for this development coming to our area. But your Excellency, kindly take note that:
*We are Landlords, artisans and small business people who have nowhere to go.
*Some of us even lived in our shops as we cannot afford decent comfortableÂ Â Â accommodation.
* During the demolition exercise there was no reported case of arms/ammunition recovery by the demolition team. This goes a long way to show that we are law-abiding citizens of the state.
*There are many other Lagosians living under PHCN high tension cables both in Atan- Nla here and other parts of the state whose house have not been demolished.
*Many of us now live in open spaces and with relations who themselves live in single rooms with familiesâ€.