Estate Development News

Massive Demolition in Oworoshoki, Lagos, Renders Several Families Homeless

BrandiQ + News

It was a flow  of tears and anguish in Oworoshoki, a suburb in Lagos state,  last week as several families including women and children were rendered homeless by agents of the Lagos State Government.

PUNCH Metro reported that no fewer than six streets were affected by the demolition that started last Monday, with a further threat by the task force that others would be demolished on Monday (today).

When the correspondent visited the area on Sunday, several children and elderly women were seen sleeping outside their burnt houses while some others were taking refuge inside abandoned tricycles.

Some residents who spoke with PUNCH Metro lamented that the state government did not give them notice, adding that people were not allowed to take out their belongings before they burnt down their buildings.

Our correspondent further learnt that streets such as Oke-Eri, Oluwaseyi, Community, Cornerstone, Ogo-Oluwa, Lagos and others, housing no fewer than 7,000 buildings had been turned into ashes and debris.

A septuagenarian simply identified as Mama Alhaji said her charcoal business had been destroyed by the burning. The teary-aged woman who had lived in the area for over 33 years said, “They came to this place without notice. I have been living here for the past 33 years. My house was at number 32, Oke-Eri. They didn’t give us any notice. On Monday, we heard some houses were burnt around the riverbank.

“Not long after that, they came to Oke-Eri and demolished several buildings that were opposite mine. When I saw that the houses opposite mine had been demolished, I started packing some of my belongings out of the place. But before I came back on Friday, my house and several bags of charcoal valued at over N60,000 had been burnt.”

Another resident, a mother of five, said that half of her belongings had been lost to the demolition, adding that all her five children now take shelter at one of the nearby churches in the area.

The widow said, “I was not around when they came. Before I came back, half of our belongings had been burnt. My five children and I have nowhere to go. It was one of my friends who were also affected by the demolition that advised us to go and be managing inside a church that is nearby. This is where we have been living since the destruction of our homes on Friday.”

The correspondent was also told that a family of eight lost their four-bedroom apartment including a shop that was being managed by the wife to the demolition.

The father, simply known as Mr Akande who spoke on the incident said the state government should have notified the residents, lamenting that the task force tear-gassed residents and smashed mobile phones of the people recording as the burning continued.

 Akande said, “The youth were prevented from taking pictures and filming the task force. They seized people’s phones and smashed others. My four-room apartment including my wife’s shop was burnt. I have all the documents including the survey. They should have informed us before they come here.”

While touring the burnt streets in Community Street, the correspondent  learnt that a building owned by PAN Africa Limited projected as a site for a telecoms mast, which was said to have been duly paid for by the company was also said to have been threatened for demolition.

Speaking on the building, Mr Femi Falode said, “This project has been paid for. The state government came to inspect it before we started the construction. It is supposed to be a location site for telecoms mast.

“I was told yesterday that those people who came also threatened to demolish the building, including the iron.”

A community leader who chose to speak to the correspondent on condition of anonymity said that the government only told them that they were going to demolish wooden houses along the riverbank, adding that they were surprised when they saw that houses were being burnt and demolished while residents were prevented from taking out their belongings.

The source said, “When the community leaders saw the demolition of buildings in Ifako Bus Stop, they said they were taking out wooden houses along the riverbank. They said they don’t want any building 50 metres from the river.

“But on Friday, suddenly over 200 policemen and some of them wearing masks to cover their identities, invaded the community. We contacted everyone we know in the government. They all told us that they were not aware of the demolition.”

Contacted, the Director of Public Affairs of the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Odunuga, could not be reached for a comment as his mobile phone rang out on Sunday.

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