Residents protest as FG marks 300 houses for demolition

Some landlords and residents of the Lotto area in the Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, on Tuesday, protested against the p...

Some landlords and residents of the Lotto area in the Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, on Tuesday, protested against the plan by the Federal Government to demolish over 300 houses to pave way for the construction of an interchange on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The protesters, who took to the street to express their grievances, decried the marking of over 300 houses for demolition in the area.

The leader of the protesters, Kehinde Isijola, said members of the community had rejected the construction of the interchange in the Lotto area, adding that the government never consulted them before marking their buildings for demolition.

The surveyor said, “We just discovered that the government is bringing an interchange that is going to consume our community. We do not want the interchange; in fact, without prior community engagement and negotiation, some engineers and surveyors started marking our houses for demolition.

“As I speak to you, they have marked up to 300 houses, but the message we are passing to them is that they have to engage us in whatever they plan to do, especially when it concerns the community.”

A businessman, Alozie Mbalewe, while lamenting that he had invested his life savings in building his house and factory at Lotto, said both had been marked for demolition.

Mbalewe said, “We know those who are behind the government and asking for the interchange to be located here. We are using this medium to communicate our displeasure on their attempt to remove us from here.

“We are angry and will stop at nothing to ensure that this project does not go on. I have invested more than N40m here. I have a house and a factory here and they have been marked for demolition. I will never allow them to destroy my property.”

A resident, Aderenle Pinnick, who said landlords and residents were responsible for bringing development to the community, charged the government to come to the rescue of the people who had been thrown into panic as a result of the proposed demolition.

“The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, should please come to our community to see the number of buildings his people have marked for demolition and tell us where he wants us to go. If there are no ulterior motives and if the project is not politically motivated by any religious organisation, the government should please come to our rescue,” Pinnick said.

A landlord, Francis Ehikhaese, said the interchange was brought to the community because it was rejected by other communities

The Federal Controller of Works for Lagos, Ademola Kuti, however, said the decision to mark the buildings for demolition was in overriding public interest, adding that the affected owners would be compensated in accordance with the law.

Kuti stated, “I am aware that we are trying to do some construction around that place, but if we are doing that, there is always room for compensation. Those affected will be adequately compensated in accordance with the law.

“They  (residents) are not to tell us where to use; we look at so many engineering factors before choosing a location and we have come up with the best engineering design. So, when the time comes, we will get everything done and if any of those houses has to go, it is in the overriding public interest.

“Nigerians using the road are more important than every other person, so, rather than them engaging in protests, they should write to meet with us and we will tell them what we are doing. Protesting will not solve any problem.”

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