Residents of the Greenland Residential among other areas are currently counting the extent of losses following the demolition of illegal buildings by the State Government.
This is as the Lagos State Government on Thursday commenced another round of demolition in Ikota Villa, in the Lekki area of the state.
The exercise began days ago as structures causing setbacks along the Ikota drainage channel were demolished.
In a report by the Punch, manual workers were seen clearing and packing some scraps from already damaged walls, and buildings while some residents stood with hands folded to their chests in pain and sadness.
One of them who refused to identify himself exclaimed in grief, “I am so pained and I don’t know what to do, they should have given us more time.”
It was also observed that uniformed men mounted at strategic positions at the estate, while lorries conveyed the scraps out of the estate.
It was also confirmed by residents that owners of the affected structures had been served a series of contravention notices before the commencement of the exercise.
Consequently, the estate managers as well as some affected residents refused to talk to the press.
However, the Chairman, of Cluster One, Ikota Villa Estate Resident Association, Mr. Olufunmiso Tooki, lamented that things had come to this even though they made efforts to engage the Commissioner for the Environment, Tokunbo Wahab, towards achieving a collaborative solution on behalf of the affected people. According to him, they even proposed to work with the government by donating resources to the construction of a concrete canal, which he claimed was superior to the current earthen canal.
“As a community and responsible citizens, we agree with the position of the state government that sanity must be restored and the environment protected, especially from the excesses of property developers who brazenly and indiscriminately erected structures all over the place. At the same time, we also believe in engagement and dialogue ahead of the implementation of drastic measures, like the one happening now. The truth is that developers are not as affected by the ongoing demolition as unsuspecting people who bought houses from them. That is why as a community, we have sought to engage the Commissioner. We still have a letter before him to which we have not received a response. Yet, the bulldozers rolled in again today, while we were still in engagement with the Commissioner who had visited our estate earlier.
“In any case, we call on the government to kindly halt the exercise to allow for dialogue and resolution in collaboration with the community.”
One of the residents who spoke with our correspondent, Patrick Emordi, stated that he had lost a three-bedroom duplex worth more than N50m to the demolition.
He said, “I am depressed, I was not around when this happened today, after five days that they had left the destruction not giving anybody notice before. We thought they already discussed and sorted out the issues not knowing that they would come here again. Today.
“I have a three-bedroom duplex here worth N50m that was damaged plus the properties in the building. I was lucky it didn’t affect my car parked inside the compound.”
“There is no human sympathy here as they are still destroying more. What is this? It’s not like they have made any provision to expand the canal for now. So, why the hurry to destroy the buildings? In the next five years, we know they won’t do anything here.
“This is so sad. This is October. Everyone is just planning to put things together but look at the situation of the country’s economy now.
“They should have even given us from now till January. What will somebody do now, no matter how much money one has? This is a tough one for anyone,” he said.
Another resident, who gave his name only as Buhari, said the government should have discussed with the current owners of the structures and not relied on the former notice.
“There are so many emotions here, those of anger and violence. It’s just that we are civilized. This is unfair, people saved for a long time to get a place here.
“There could have been an alternative way. Set up a meeting with the current residents, not the developers or original owners of the land.
“They could have introduced measures, such as building a thicker fence. It could have been negotiated. But now, imagine a 17-unit duplex to be demolished,” he lamented.
He said that they usually changed the dates that they came for the demolition
“They will give us next week and come the next day and pull things down,” he posited.
The Ikota Villa GRA powerhouse was also affected, as the generators that generate power and water worth N70m were affected.
The residents claimed that they had been asking the government to give them a mark so they could know what to do but no one answered them and all of a sudden, the place was destroyed and the generators affected.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Kunle Adeshina, said the exercise was the continuation of the demolition that started weeks ago.
He stated that there was no going back on bringing down structures built on the alignments of the Lekki through Ikota drainage setbacks
“We cannot remove some and leave some. All the buildings on that alignment will be removed. We have started it and there is no going back,” he said.
In the case of compensation, he said, “You cannot have a legality on an illegality. They were informed duly and the government cannot give someone who doesn’t have an approval compensation. This exercise started in 2020, so all residents are aware,” he added.