Kunle ADELABU, Seun AJAYI, Joseph FOLARIN, Kunle OKIKIOLA & Tobi OGUNTOKI
-Hon. Benson, Agunbiade, Solaja commend Governor, assure victims of compensation
To the residents of Igbogbo and Agric-Owutu in Ikorodu division whose houses have been demolished to make way for road construction in the two communities, this uncommon sacrifice will be an unforgettable experience for them as they have offered their shelters for the future economic and social developments of the entire division.
Last week, hundreds of houses were demolished to give way for the rehabilitation and expansion of roads in Ikorodu West and Igbogbo/Bayeku Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) of the division .
Hi-Tech Construction Company, a construction giant located at 1682, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, which was awarded the reconstruction works for Igbogbo/Awolowo/Gintin/Ijede Road in Igbogb/Bayeku LCDA and Agric-Isawo-Konu-Arepo Road in Ikorodiu West LCDA, has moved to sites in both areas to commence work.
Bulldozers, belonging to the construction company, roared into Owutu and Igbogbo on Monday, December 11, 2017, to pull down structures and give way for the construction of world class highways which are expected to transform the division’s economic and social lives.
Even though the affected residents had been informed several months ago that their houses would have to give way while these structures were later marked, the reality of this huge sacrifice did not dawn on them until when the demolition exercise finally begun.
THE IMPACT gathered that the reactions that followed the demolition exercise almost scuttled the multi-million naira projects but for the timely intervention of the state government and the traditional institutions in the two communities.
Demolition in Igbogbo
THE IMPACT gathered that the reactions that trailed the demolition exercise in Igbogbo necessitated another stakeholders’ meeting which was held at the Palace of the Adeboruwa of Igbogbo on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
It was gathered that the decision of the Igbogbo traditional institution, led by Oba of Igbogbo, His Royal Majesty, Oba Semiudeen Orimadegun Kasali, to move round the affected areas on Sunday, December 10, before the commencement of the demolition exercise, played a very big role in bringing the situation under control.
Among those that were present at the stakeholders’ meeting were Oba Kasali, his chiefs, Hon. Babajimi Benson, Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Nurudeen Solaja, Member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and Comrade Sesan Daini, Chairman, Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA.
Also at the meeting, which was held behind closed door, was Asiwaju Olorunfunmi Basorun, former Secretary to the Lagos State Government.
A reliable source informed THE IMPACT that the meeting was called to find ways in complimenting the the efforts by Oba Kasali and his chiefs in managing the crisis caused by the demolition exercise.
“The stakeholders’ meeting became necessary after unfavourable security information got to the Governor concerning the reactions of the residents. We had to call the meeting to find ways by which the efforts of the kabiyesi and his chiefs in appeasing the affected residents could be complimented”, the source stated.
“Though, the ongoing demolition is necessary because without it, we cannot have the development we have been clamouring for, but there is no man who finds himself in such situation that would not betray his emotion. Lots of histories, heritages and values are being sacrificed to develop our community to make it part of the future”, the source added.
It was also gathered that so many historic buildings, shrines, religious houses and heritages which were found to have fallen within the right of way had either been pulled down or marked for demolition.
Important structures such as NIPCO Petrol Stations, Methodist and Apostolic Church buildings and many ancient buildings have been completely pull down, while the United African Methodist Church (Eleja)building has been partially demolished,
More so, important traditional and social buildings like Adeboruwa Palace, Orisha-Oja (market god’s shrine), Igbogbo Primary Health Centre and the new structure built inside UAMC Primary School among others have been marked for demolition as at the time our reporter visited the community on Saturday, December 16.
The demolition exercise, which started a few metres after Igbogbo cemetery where the first phase of the construction of the road done by the administration of Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, stopped, has extended to Itungodo, Club 24, Agarawu through the Igbogbo Township Stadium along Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Way.
THE IMPACT further gathered that five Ituns (traditional/settling quarters) were affected by the demolition.
The road, after completion will serve as a link among several communities such as Owutu, Ipakodo, Igbogbo Ijede, Gberigbe and Imota where the State Government has established a Rice factory and had recently moved the Lagos State Commodity Market at Mile 12 to.
The road is expected to be expanded to four lanes with seven standard laybys, dedicated lanes for cyclists and three pedestrians bridges.
Most residents declined speaking with the press in Igbogbo but the few that spoke commended the State government for the laudable project while also calling for compensation for the victims of the demolished buildings.
Speaking with THE IMPACT, Igunlayo Opeyemi, one of the victims of the demolition, expressed sadness over being rendered homeles but welcomed the development that the road construction will bring to Igbogbo and entire Ikorodu division.
Another resident, Ademola Aderogba, also welcomed the development,saying that it would enhance the social and economic development of Igbogbo.
In his own reaction, Chief Monsuru Oluwaseyi, Baale of Ofin-Ile, said, “It is a project that has been expected to take place before now. Our people should bare with the State government because the project, after completion, would improve our social and economic standing”.
He added that affected property owners will get compensation for their demolished properties.
Meanwhile, officials of the Ministry of Physical Planning & Urban Development declined comment when our reporter accompanied them during their visit to Igbogbo on December 14, 2017.
Demolition In Agric-Owutu Axis
In Agric- Owutu-Isawo axis of Ikorodu West LCDA, the construction company is expected to do upgrading and reconstruction of Agric-Isawo-Konu-Arepo road within the duration of 20 months.
Along these routes, structures which included houses, places of worship and shops obstructing the right of way for the road project have been demolished.
Hundreds of the residents trooped out on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, to witnessed the demolition of these structures.
The construction giant and officials of the state government had marked the affected structures some weeks back.
When THE IMPACT visited the scenes of the demolition during the week, some of the residents were seen removing their roof tops and other properties they don’t want to lose to the demolition.
It was equally gathered that the demolition exercise, which started at Konu area, has reached Oke-Afa along Isawo Road as at the time THE IMPACT crew visited the area on Saturday, December 16, 2017.
Also, grading work has commenced from Konu to Oke-Oko area along Isawo Road.
A resident of Isawo, who did not disclose his name, while speaking with THE IMPACT, stated, “I cannot believe that the rejected stone could ever be the pillar of a house. That Isawo and Owutu communities, which are known as havens of criminals, are being remembered by the Lagos State government is very commendable. The activities of the militants had forced many people to run away and had also demonized our community but with this project, there would massive influx because of the economic and social benefits that it would attract after completion”.
He added, “I hope that the government will compensate those residents whose houses have been demolished in good time so that they could resettle and continue with their lives.”
Another resident, Mrs Bamidele Faith whose shop was also affected by the demolition at Oke-Oko, regretted renting the shop and also pleaded with the state government to ensure that compensation is paid to the victims.
Mrs Kasali Ahmed, whose house was partially demolished, said she would have cursed those responsible for the demolition but she believe that the state government meant well with the project.
“I should have cursed everyone involved in demolishing my house. You can see that the building is partially demolished and no longer safe. If you know what it takes to construct a house and the feeling when unfortunate development like this happens, you would understand while people are aggrieved.”
“I want to believe that the State Government meant well with this project. The reconstruction will transform our environment.”
Another landlord, who also spoke with THE IMPACT, stated, “Even though I did not fall victim of the demolition, I feel for the victim. These are people that supposed to be planning for Christmas and New Year celebrations but they have been rendered homeless by circumstances beyond them.”
“I think those planning to build houses will learn from this that it is important to always leaves setback for future development. I also want to enjoin the State government to compensate the victims adequately so that they can at least start all over again”, he pleaded.
A staff of the Hi-Tech, who also did not disclose his name because he was not authorized to speak with the press, stated, “We ensured that the residents were adequately carried along. After marking the affected structures, we waited for weeks before the commencement of the demolition. This was to allow those affected to make necessary arrangements”.
Speaking during iCare Foundation’s distribution of ‘Apo-Anu’ (Bag of Mercy) to about 500 residents in Ikorodu at his Constituency Office on December 16, Hon. Babajimi Benson called on the entire residents of Ikorodu division to remember the victims in their prayers.
“I want to implore our people in Ikorodu division to remember those that their houses were demolished to pave way for the construction of roads that would benefit the division in their prayers. You should also extend hands of friendship to them during this festive season”, he pleaded.
Speaking with THE IMPACT, Hon. Benson also stated that leaders in Ikorodu division are also working towards getting compensation for the affected victims.
He commended Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwumi Ambode, for awarding the multi-million naira projects for contruction.
Also speaking with THE IMPACT, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, the Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, stated, “I want to commend the gesture of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for awarding and starting two major roads that would transform Ikorodu division socially and economically. We are all pleased with the development”.
“While expressing happiness over the projects that would impacted greatly on the development of our social and economic status, we are also sadden by the effects on the victims of the demolitions. Those that are sacrificing their buildings today for our tomorrow should be remembered and cared for. They deserve our attention and we, as their representatives, are going to ensure that they are cared for. I know that the governor is a listening person who would do everything necessary to compensate the people”, he stated.
Hon. Nurudeen Solaja, while also speaking with our reporter stated:
“The road, when completed, will link four local government areas in Ikorodu division – Ikorodu West, Igbogbo/Bayeku, Ijede and Imota LCDAs and with this, we are expecting a great transformation in social and economic lives of the division. You will agree with me that Igbogbo in particular does not have a major road and this is why the people are happy with the development. They are really in support of the governor’s gesture”, Hon. Solaja stated.
He also assured that the governor will compensate the victims of the demolition.
“Our amiable governor has stated that the victims are going to be compensated and we are working towards this”, he assured.