..Arrests 12 persons
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Government, through, the state Taskforce on Environment and Special Offences Unit, in the early hours of Tuesday, embarked on demolition of all illegal shanties, motor parks, and structures, numbering thousands, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway area of the state.
The exercise followed the expiration of a seven-day removal notice for owners and occupants of such illegal structures to vacate or be forcefully removed.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo–Olu had on assumption of office, May 30th, 2019, declared zero tolerance on all traffic impediments, road pot-holes, and environmental degradation, such as; indiscriminate refuse disposal when he signed three Executive Orders, aimed at enhancing the free flow of traffic, environment across the state.
Recall that Sanwo-Olu, had earlier in June, during an inspection of the dilapidated state of the road on the axis, directed relevant agencies to ensure removal of all illegal shanties, shops and other illegal structures impeding movement of traffic, constituting security threat as soon as possible to allow for smooth operation of the ongoing road rehabilitation project.
Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Taiwo Salaam and
Chairman of the state Task Force, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Olayinka Egbeyemi, led the enforcement team which commenced exercise from Eric-Moore Orile-Iganmu, area of Apapa.
Other agencies involved in the operation include Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, LSNSC, Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, among others.
Salaami, who addressed the media, explained that the state government had earlier issued a notice of ‘Removal Order’ to all owners of illegal structures which include; shanties, Kiosks and makeshift shops along Okokomaiko to Badagry and Iba-LASU road on the need to immediately relocate as taskforce had been mobilized to embark on demolition exercise of such structures.
On notice of ‘Removal Order,’ he said; “The Governor was touched by the discomfort being experienced on daily basis along the axis as a result of these bad roads and vowed to ameliorate the sufferings of residents, commuters plying the Okokomaiko to Badagry Express-way by rehabilitating the road.
“Therefore, we have to embark on general demolition exercise of all the shanties, kiosks and makeshift shops within these areas starting from today, Tuesday.”
Egbeyemi added that criminals seized the opportunity to hide in some of the kiosks and shanties to carry out their nefarious acts, especially at night, hence, the need to clear the structures with immediate effect.
He said there were several complaints and reports of armed banditry along the axis where motorists and commuters were being attacked and dispossessed of their valuables, as well as maimed in the process.
The taskforce team arrived the area at about 11 am and started the clean up with various kind of equipment after displacing occupants.
Traders and owners of the structures watched helplessly as cranes and forklifts brought down their erstwhile shops and abode.
However, some of the displaced traders and owners were seen salvaging whatever property they could remove from the debris.
Salaam noted that the cleaning exercise was in line with the directive of Governor that all illegal shanties and waste should be cleared off in the overall interest of the health of the residents.
Salaam said the governor was worried over the overgrown weeds, health risk and traffic gridlock the structures and activities posed to the lives of residents.
Salaam who frowned at the indiscipline attitude of converting walkways and setbacks into shops and abodes, noted that the act undermines Government huge investment in social infrastructure.
According to Salaam, the cleaning exercise has no time frame for operation, saying it would be a continuous exercise until the area has been cleared of all illegal structures.
He disclosed that an Ad-hoc Inter:-Ministerial Committee has been created to ensure sustainability and compliance in line with the executive order.
Salaam added: “This exercise is, therefore, a prelude to a major intervention to be embarked in two major axes of the road by this committee. One is Lagos Badadgry Expressway, which is an international road linking other west African countries.
“While the other, is the Oshodi-Abule-Egba axis, a densely populated area in the state.”
Egbeyemi, however, confirmed that at least 12 persons were arrested and would be prosecuted accordingly.