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Illegal structures: Bode Thomas community seeks LASBCA’s intervention

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By Kingsley Adegboye

DISTURBED by life threatening illegal structures springing up at Pilot Crescent 2, Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos, residents of the low cost housing estate under the aegis of Pilot Crescent 2 Residents’ Association, have sought the intervention of Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) in order to avert perceived calamity posed by construction of illegal buildings in the sleepy community.

Pilot Crescent 2 which is located within the neighbourhood of Games Village, Bode Thomas, Surulere, was formerly owned by the federal government before the bungalow units of two and three-bedroom apartments were sold to individuals by the government.

The residents who spoke to Vanguard Homes & Property about the manner in which some property owners in the estate are flagrantly contravening building regulations as applied to the area has compelled them to seek the intervention of LASBCA to save them from the hands of the lawless developers.

According to Mr. Ayo Olagunju, Chairman, Pilot Crescent 2 Residents’ Association, the new development plan of the area allows owners of the flats to redevelop to their tastes but not to raise their apartments above the level of bungalows, which were the specification for the estate by the federal government right from its inception.

The contentious property before the intervention of LASBCA.

Congested estate

Olagunju said some new property owners in the estate are now constructing storey buildings of three floors with two apartments per floor in  premises meant for one family, pointing out that the already congested estate would become more congested with more tenants coming in. He added that without provision for parking spaces by the developers of these illegal buildings, it means access roads within the estate would be converted to car parks thereby denying residents access to their residences.

In a protest letter to LABSCA which was made available to Vanguard Homes & Property, the residents said “We the members of the above-named Association are constrained to send this SOS appeal to you to please come and save us from an impending catastrophe. This is a follow up to the earlier letter dated 9/9/2016, written by the Games Village Community Development Association.

Negative impact: “We have observed with grave concern that the buildings at 36 & 34, Pilot Crescent, off Bode Thomas, Surulere, are being constructed in contravention of government’s plan and approval. The Crescent is a low densely populated area specifically designed for bungalows’ with not much space and the storey buildings springing up in the estate will have negative impact on its immediate environment. “Two Lagos State Government Agencies have visited the structure under construction at 36 Pilot Crescent, marked the house and put a red tape across for stoppage of work.

Planning regulation

However, in a dramatic twist, a few hours after the inspection team had left, the developer and workers at this building, boldly removed the mark/tape and continued construction work  with impunity, working late in the night.

“The said construction is being built on a plot that is less than 300sqm, having two wings of apartments with three floors (Ground, first and second floor). This kind of construction contravenes the planning regulation for the Crescent as the entire area was laid out for Bungalow units.

“The building is also not conforming with all laid down rules regarding the location of building and town planning regulations. The percentage built area of development has been far exceeded as building occupies more than 60% of the land as against approved maximum of 40%. Also, the building has contravened the setback rule by reducing the setback between the property and the next.

“The High-rise buildings being erected at 36 Pilot Crescent, is dangerously too close to the high voltage electricity cable running on the side and in front of building. This is an accident waiting to happen and we don’t want to wait until disaster strikes before we start wailing and receiving condolence messages.

Gross violation: “In gross violation of the relevant Act, the High-Rise building being constructed at 36, Pilot Crescent, is noxious, illegal, offensive, and is of inconvenience and annoyance to the occupiers of premises adjoining and near thereto. The privacy of our members would be violated around the clock as tenants of the illegal structure would be spying on activities going on in the adjoining premises {bungalows}that were built in accordance with extant building laws and regulations.

Extant building laws and regulations

“We already have serious parking space problems within the Crescent, with these structures that will now  contain more than one family than stipulated by regulations, the situation will worsen, if these buildings can set a bad precedence”, the residents noted.

Our visit to the estate revealed that a few numbers of the apartments have been redeveloped to a storey level which Olagunju said is permissible if the storey building is just one family according to the contractual agreement with the federal government.

He stated however, that why the residents are against the ongoing redevelopment at house No.36 is that the developer is developing a two storey building comprising six flats of two wings of two- bedroom apartments per floor in a premises meant for one family, insisting that the would-be tenants in that premises will have no where to park their vehicles than the narrow street, thereby hindering free flow of movement on the street.

At No.36 which is causing problem within estate, it was observed that the block work on the second floor of the building had been demolished to the level of first floor. However, reinforcement iron rods were seen still standing, just as the decking for the second floor which had been cast before its block work was demolished, was still intact, making the scenario suspicious, as one cannot roof a decked house.

LASBCA’s response

But in its response, LASBCA said it has intervened appropriately in the situation as demanded by the residents by carrying out the demolition of the second floor of the ongoing housing project, pointing out that the developer was given approval for ground and first floor building (one storey building) by the federal government from the documents it saw as provided by the owners of the project.

Asked why the decking for the second floor was not demolished by LABSCA when it carried out the demolition of the block work on the floor, spokesperson of the Agency, Mrs. Titi Ajirotutu who responded on behalf of the Agency, said bringing the decking will amount to demolishing the entire structure, adding that the Agency deliberately allowed the decking to remain to avoid demolishing the building under construction.

All efforts to reach the developer, Mrs. Fadahunsi, on phone proved abortive, as a female voice kept saying wrong number several times that the reporter called the number.

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