The residents of Idowu and Owoseni Streets in Ikate, Surulere Lagos are counting their loses as officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment Task Force on Tuesday, demolished structures worth millions of naira close to the canal in the area.
The residents were thrown into agony when the Task force officials invaded the area in the early hours of Tuesday with their equipment to bring down illegal structures, especially those that were close to the canal.
The demolished structures included a church, residential houses, fences and shops.
Residents have poured out their hearts saying that, the demolition marked the third time Lagos state government will demolish structures in the area all in the name of draining the canal which they haven’t done since 2010 when the first demolition took place.
Although they accepted that their structures were close to the canal and that they had been warned to move them backwards, they insisted that compensation should be given to them as the plan for their houses were approved by the Ministry of Environment before they were built.
On why they kept rebuilding the structures after they are demolished, one of the residents who spoke to National Weekender on ground of anonymity said,they always put up the structures again because having waited in vain for the government to commence the work on the canal the area is plagued with hoodlums and miscreants, they have no other choice than to put up their fences again for security purpose.
He explained that, fight and harassment by hoodlums in the area is a regular occurrence and that armed robbery attacks are a regular event. He further revealed that, the week before, the manager of a sachet Water Company in the area had a misunderstanding with one of the hoodlums which resulted in him getting stabbed. “Our fences are what keep us safe from these touts” he said.
He appealed to the state government to come to their aid by providing security and bring their promise to fulfillment this time around by draining the canal which obviously needs attention.
Mrs. Etim, a business woman, widow and mother of five (5) who makes cassava derivative locally called “fufu” in Owoseni Street and whose shop was affected lamented that, she lost some of her goods to the demolition explaining that she couldn’t salvage all her goods before the tractor and hammer got to her shop. She appealed to the state government to build shops for her and others like her who is affected by the demolition adding that it is from the business that she feeds and sends her children to school.
Speaking with our correspondent, Mr. Fashola, a staff of the Ministry of Environment and one of the MOE Task Force officials who carried out the demolition said, they were working in accordance to the instruction given to them which was to bring down any structure that is 3metres close to the canal. He further explained that, Lagos State government has awarded the contract for the draining of the canal and that the demolition is necessary to create space for the draining.
Fashola intimated that, the affected buildings had been earlier notified of the demolition. “Two weeks ago, our men came here to inform them about our coming and also to tell them how many meters they were to move their structures away from the canal” he said.