By Kingsley Adegboye
In line with the efforts of the Lagos State Government to bring sanity to the environment, the Amuwo-Odifin Local Government Councilhas begun moves to ensure that Festival Town popularly called FESTAC, where the council secretariat is located, is given a face-lift.
The Town which was referred to as ‘’small London’’ in its early days because of its beauty, is fast becoming a slum due to the growth of illegal structures that have taken over the open spaces and green areas. In the same vein, frontages of residential houses have been turned into shops while containers have taken over the walkways. All these make the entire community look like a market place.
The Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area says it is time to begin to address the decadence and lawlessness in Festac. Consequently, the Council has commenced sealing off shops and structures that are believed to have contravened town planning laws and regulations as well as environmental sanitation laws.
While some residents of the sprawling neighbourhood applauded the Council for its efforts to restore the lost glory of Festac, others saw the action as an opportunity by the local government to victimize its perceived enemies. According to this group, some offenders are used as sacred cows in the ongoing sanitization exercise.
One of the places sealed by the Council is now generating heat between the Council and members of Resident Associations in Festac. The place is called Chi-Chi Stop Over Bar and Restaurant located at 71 Road, 7th Avenue. The Restaurant which is owned by one Mrs. Irene Bamgbose Daniels was sealed off by the Council on the 17th of March 2012 for allegedly not complying with the conditions of the Council, after several cautions/ notices had been served on her.
A letter from the Chairman, Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area to the proprietress of the Restaurant dated on March 22, 2012 gave reasons why the Council sealed off the premises. According to the letter which was made available to Vanguard Metro, the Council stated thus: ‘’It is pertinent to remind you of our several warnings in the manner you run your shop at 71 Road which clearly demonstrates an abuse of the environment where you carry out your business operations without considering the effect on the neighbourhood.
‘’You failed to address the issues raised that will create friendly environment for the benefit of other residents in the neighbourhood. It is important to highlight some of these issues to refresh our memory. In the first case, we complained verbally to you that your customers park their vehicles indiscriminately along 71 Road, thereby causing avoidable traffic and also that your business outlet lacks parking space.
‘’We also complained verbally to you that your method of disposing of refuse generated at your business premises causes environmental hazards and no efforts have been made by you to find lasting solution to it, just as we complained verbally to you that the blaring of music from your business premises causes noise within the neighbourhood.
‘’We further complained verbally to you that your hours of operations last beyond the approved time of 10 pm. We pointed out that residents within the neighbourhood are not pleased with this practice of closing late which allows for strangers loitering the area.
We have therefore resolved that before your business premises will be reopened, the issues raised must be addressed satisfactorily. Your early address of these issues will determine how soon your business premises will be reopened’’, the letter which was signed by the Executive Chairman of the Council, Comrade Ayodele Adewale noted.
But rising to the defence of the embattled Mrs Daniels, the Community One Residents Association, a branch of Festac Town Residents Association FTRA the residents denied claims by the Council that the Mrs Daniels’s bar constituted a nuisance to them.
A letter signed by Dr. Alex Edoh and Mr. Toye Adewopo, Chairman and Secretary of the Association respectively which stated thus: ‘’We Community One Residents Association under the aegis of FTRA hereby state that after the executive members of the association met with members of Community One on the problem between Chi-Chi Stop Over Bar and Restaurant and Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area, the residents want the Restaurant reopened because the proprietress of the outfit has been very cooperative.
The residents claimed that her presence had been giving them security because she engaged OPC members as security in her business premises. They stated that “since the seal up of the place, the residents have been exposed to fear of attack by the men of the underworld”.
According to them she engaged the services of Man-O-War men to help control traffic in the area. “Furthermore, from our investigation during our meeting, we have no doubt that she will abide by all rules and regulations of the local government. We have gone further to confirm from the PSP operators in charge of the area that Chi-Chi has been dsposing of her refuse through them and has been regular.
‘’We have undertaken to put men to monitor her operations and we will not hesitate to report to the Council if she defaults in any way. We hereby appeal to you to temper justice with mercy by reopening the place, considering that she had complied with stated conditions by you. She is a first offender and she has served enough punishment for whatever she may have done. Any further torture will amount to killing a rat with an axe’’, the residents said.
Mrs. Daniels told Vanguard Metro that she has complied with all conditions as demanded by the Council, She however alleged that some unidentified people came and opened her business premises a day after it was sealed and carted away a file containing all the receipts she had obtained from Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area. padlock was not broken but opened its key which was not in her custody, adding that of all files kept together in the same place, it was only the one containing local government receipts was stolen away.