By Ebun Sessou
Residents of Amuwo Odofin have continued to lament the demolition of their shops by the Lagos State Government. When Saturday Vanguard visited the community this week, the expressions on the faces of the people were that of hopelessness and anguish.
Investigation also revealed that majority of the owners of the containers that served as shops were retirees and pensioners.
About 12,000 shops were demolished and 20,000 traders displaced according to the Secretary of the Jakande Landlord Association, Mr. Toba Johnson when a demolition squad from the Lagos State Government stormed the estate, to restore sanity to the area. Some of the traders said that the state government commenced the demolition exercise on February 1st, about one week after the warning issued to the occupants of the structures had expired.
Vanguard gathered that the State Government through the ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development issued a 7-day ultimatum on January 19, 2017, to owners of structures erected on drainages and walkways within the estate to remove them.
The government argued that the structures were distorting the Estate Master Plan, and, should be removed to restore the original master plan of the estate drawn over 20 years ago. The structures demolished by the government included shops and containers used by residents for business activities along the popular Fatgbem- Durbar road axis.
One of the affected traders, told Vanguard that, he was shocked the way government demolished the containers. “The decision at this recession period was wrong. They have rendered us hopeless, there were so many elderly people who depended on the demolished shops for survival”, he said. Another victim of the demolition, Mr. Francis lamented that, he had not finished repayment of the loan he took from a cooperative society. “I am still paying back the money I borrowed before the government took away my means of livelihood”, he said
A woman in her late 60s identified as Rose noted that the notice for the demolition got to her two days before the demolition took place.
Also, a young man who spoke with Saturday Vanguard said that, his parents were running the business to finance his education and his other siblings. “My parents have been financing our education through the business but the same business have been taken away. I don’t know what will happen to us now. “This is a bad move. Where are we going to start from? This is injustice, it is devastating”, he cried.
Another resident who would not want his name mentioned said, “the shop owners have been paying the sum of N2500 to the Lagos State Government for many years for every container shop, while Amuwo Odofin Local Government collects trade permit fee of about N4000 and even PHCN brings electricity bills to shop owners. Amuwo Odofin estate, mile 2 has been in existence for more than 30 years and these shops and containers have also existed for as long as residents can remember”, he said .
Reacting, a lawmaker representing Amuwo Odofin in the Lagos State house of Assembly, Dipo Olorunrinu, said that the Lagos State Government through its agent, Lagos Building Investment Company, LBIC, came up with the original plan of the Mile2 Jakande Estate stating that the demolished structures were not part of the master plan.
According to him, “some of the residents of the estate have been complaining of he inconveniences they experience as a result of those containers. Unfortunately, majority of the people did not want the demolition of those containers. But, if you ask me, I think the agency should have given enough notice so as to allow the people pack their goods.
“Although, I wrote the LBIC to exercise patience on the demolition but the agency’s representative explained that there could not have been a better time for the demolition of those containers than now.
“Most people who run those businesses are retirees. As much as I want the development of the estate, I still believe that people’s means of livelihood should be put into consideration. The LBIC should have given the residents of Amuwo Odofin enough time but I learnt there were other projects to be addressed”, he said.