The Lagos State Government on Tuesday clarified its decision to demolish illegal structures and shanties built along the river banks and under high tension cables across the State, citing security concerns and flagrant abuse of it’s building regulations as its core reasons.
Addressing journalists at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, explained that the move was in line with government’s pursuit for a cleaner environment and restoration of it’s master plans through the removal of all environmental infractions and nuisances across the state. The Government had noted with dismay, the flagrant disobedience of building regulations in the State, hence its decision to go ahead with the enforcement of structures in contravention of the Law. It was fully understood during the press briefing that the State Government would not go back 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 vandalise 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 setbacks of drainage channels, centre-line of overhead electricity wires and also states in very clear terms specified distance to be observed between a Property line and a public utility”, he said.
Ayorinde explained that as far as demolition of illegal structures were concerned, nothing will be done without due consideration to the extant laws of the state as well as adequately engaging with the communities and people involved.
“Yes we would be considerate to the plight of those considered as urban poor, but we will also not allow their situation to jeopardise the safety and security of more than 21 million residents of the state. This is the reason why this is being carried out and this is the reason why the Government will not succumb to cheap blackmail,” Ayorinde said. Explaining further, the Commissioner 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 the wake of an incident.
Shedding more light on the demolition of shanties on the Illubirin waterfront, the Commissioner for Housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, said the occupants were evicted and their shanties demolished because they were illegal settlers in the area. He recalled that the Illubirin Housing Project started about ten years ago under the administration of former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu with the reclamation of the Lagoon, while the fishermen who were there at that time were resettled at Badore. He said after the reclamation, the housing units started in 2013 and it was initially designed to accommodate 1,254 housing units, while the scheme was reviewed and redesigned by the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to make the place to live, work and play, with the partnership of a private investor. According to Lawal, the illegal settlers moved into Illubirin waterfront during the process of redesigning the scheme, adding that the private investor had perfected plans to move to the site, and is committing about $500 million into the scheme.
On his part, Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, said adequate notices and sensitisation have been embarked upon by the State Government to educate the people on the need to refrain from constructing any structure on river banks, saying that the safety of about 22 million residents of the State cannot be allowed to be jeopardised by few.