Residents of Abule-Egba yesterday protested against the State Government’s plan to demolish over 1,000 houses and shops for the expansion of the Lagos-Abeokuta Road.
The residents accused the government of reneging on its agreement with property owners. They said, rather than continue the project based on the agreed 32 metres from the old electric poles, the government last week extended portions for demolition to 91.44 metres.
They alleged that the government planned to render them homeless, adding that they were told that the demolition of marked structures would start tomorrow.
The residents claimed that the development has left four aged landladies hospitalised, including Mrs. Soyebatu Atobajaye, adding that over 10,000 people would be jobless if government went ahead with the plan.
According to them, a September 22 letter from the Ministry of Physical Planning, signed by F.A. Danboyi, notifying them of the 91.44 metres Right of Way (RoW) also directed that they should within seven days, provide documents validating their ownership.
But when they took their documents to the ministry, the residents alleged that they were asked to vacate the premises to pave the way for demolition. They discribed the directive as “anti-people.”
It was gathered that structures from Super to Awori, a distance that falls under the Oke-Odo, Ojokoro and Orile-Agege constituencies would be affected if the markings of last Tuesday were allowed to stand.
A community leader, Alhaji Jimoh Agbaje, whose two properties at 374 and 376 Abeokuta Expressway were affected by the new markings, appealed to the government to stick to the previous ones.
He said: “I bought this property (376) in 1976 and commenced building in 1979. If you look at it, you would see that I have over 100 feet from the covert. I did not build on the RoW. Yet, I agreed to leave 32 metres of my land for the project since it was for our development.
“We had a meeting with the Commissioner for Physical Planning, Wasiu Anifowoshe on September 20. He never told us that the government was planning to take more of our lands. Then, on September 22, I got a letter indicating that about 78 feets would be taken out of my plots, not including the 32 metres I have voluntarily given.
“The problem now is that, for them to take the 78 feets, they would demolish 11 shops and part of my building. In as much as we love the project, the government should not render us homeless and jobless. I have 11 employees who would lose their jobs if my office is demolished. Then over 200 persons would be laid off at plot 374 because I have 42 shops there occupied by people who also employed people.
“We are appealing to them to be considerate. This is the people’s government. They should know that the ripple effect would affect over 10,000 people. It is not as if we are affecting the construction. They should stick to the initial agreement of 32 metres from the pole and complete the project, which is about 50 percent done.”
A widow, Chief Grace Santos, whose husband retired as a permanent secretary, lamented the planned demolition of her shops and house, saying she has nowhere to go to.
The widow, who said the shops were her means of livelihood, added that the house was the only property acquired by her late husband.
She said: “With these new markings, my shops would be demolished and half of my building would go too. Where do I go to with my children and grandchildren? I have pregnant women in my home. Do they want us to starve to death or sleep on the streets?
“So many people have developed hypertension since the notice was served and the new markings done. About four elderly women are on admission in the hospital. It is not easy, especially with the current hardship in the country. The government should reconsider.”
Contacted, Physical Planning and Urban Development Commissioner, Wasiu Anifowoshe said he was working based on designs from the Ministry of Works.
He said: “Abeokuta Expressway is a Federal Government project. The government has acquired the Right of Way which has been effected. It was the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure that gave my Ministry the drawings, so I am working based on the advice from the Ministry of Works. I advise you to contact the Ministry of Works for reaction.”