Following protests demonstrated by people of water front communities at Lagos house twice in four days over eviction order given by the state government a week ago, it has maintained its stand to demolish illegal structures and shanties along river banks across the state, promising that people involved would be given more time to vacate.
The State government had explained that decision to demolish shanties erected along river banks and under high tension cables was due to security concerns and flagrant abuse of its building regulations.
While addressing journalists at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, on Tuesday, the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said the move was in line with government’s pursuit of its policy on cleaner environment and restoration of master plans through removal of all environmental infractions and nuisances across the state.
Ayorinde said that the government had noted overtime with dismay, flagrant disobedience of building regulations in the State, adding that it would not hesitate on its resolve to establish zero tolerance for all structures and properties built under high tension cables.
“It is quite worrisome that ramshackle structures, sheds, canopies and shanties, especially along shorelines have turned to the abode of miscreants/street urchins, kidnappers, touts, street traders and hawkers who often vandalize public utilities and attack innocent citizens,”
“The State’s Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010, prohibits erecting structures within the Right of Ways and set backs of drainage channels, Centre-line of over-head electricity wires and also states in very clear terms specified distance to be observed between a Property line and a public utility”, he said.
The commissioner noted that a directive was served after a Security Council Meeting in September to Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABCA) and Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to take inventory of all houses and buildings along river banks in the state to among other things, ascertain whether set backs were adhered to in line with stipulated regulations.
He however noted that nothing would be done in Lagos State as far as demolition of illegal structures are concerned without due considerations to extant laws of the state and without adequately engaging with the communities, with the people involved as demonstrated by what the Governor did in Illubirin, where he gave them more time to move in spite repeated warnings and notices they were being served.
Speaking further, Ayorinde said that most of the buildings marked for demolition did not comply with the required setback as stipulated, saying that such could have fatal consequences in wake of an incident, adding that the government would be considerate to plight of those considered as urban poor, and it would not allow their plight jeopardize safety and security of more than 21 million residents of the state.
Also, Commissioner for Housing, Gbolahan Lawal, said that the occupants of Ilubirin waterfront were evicted and their shanties were demolished because they were illegal settlers in the area, recalling that the Ilubirin Housing project started about ten years ago under administration of former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu with reclamation of Lagoon.
He explained that fishermen who were there at the time were resettled at Badore, adding that the illegal settlers moved to Illubirin waterfront during process of redesigning the scheme, as private investor had perfected plans to move to site, committing about $500 million into the scheme.
Lawal noted that after the reclamation, the housing units started in 2013 and was initially designed to accommodate 1,254 housing units, while the scheme was reviewed and redesigned by Governor Ambode’s administration to make the place a live, work and play environment, with partnership of a private investor.
On his part, Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, said adequate sensitization have been embarked upon by the State Government to educate people on need to refrain from constructing any structure on river banks, saying that safety of about 22 million residents of the State cannot be allowed to be jeopardize by few.
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