‘Illegality cannot beget legality:’ Lagos vows demolition of buildings on drainage alignment
Wahab and others during the tour
Published By: Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Lagos State Government at the weekend insisted that it will not be selective in its application of the law to residents, but ensure justice and fairness to all.
This commitment was made by the State Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab when he returned alongside state officials to the Lekki 2 Ikota Drainage channel corridors where structures built on the drainage channel were being demolished for an on-the-spot assessment.
Wahab who was besieged by pleading occupants and owners of the fully built structures constructed on the drainage setbacks and already marked for demolition, said stopping the demolition exercise at this point would amount to double standard.
The Commissioner added the demolished block of duplexes were on the same drainage setback alignment like the ones yet to be removed and that the State is irrevocably committed to reclaim its drainage setback and restore the masterplan.
Wahab spoke with newsmen after the tour which also took the team that included the Permanent Secretaries, Office of Drainage Services, Engr Olalekan Shodeinde and Environmental Services, Gaji Omobolaji respectively to Osapa London and major housing estates in Ikota, Lekki County Estate and Victoria Garden City Estate.
The Commissioner said it is a sad that the State Government had to take the very difficult decision to pull down the fully built up structures to reclaim the drainages setback for free flow of storm water in the area.
He stressed that the owners of the structures demolished in Ikota were aware that they have contravened and have had different engagements with the Ministry from 2020 when most of the structures were at foundation levels and several notices served.
“At ikota, the level of encroachments is just unimaginable, people have built on the canal path and we resolved that these nuisances cannot be allowed to continue. It just had to stop” he said.
Wahab said he made it a point of duty to visit the Ikota site once again and personally meet the owners of the structures yet to go down and advise them to vacate the building before the demolition exercise moves to their end because no amount of entreaties will stop the exercise.
“We have gone round and we concluded that all houses on the canal path and on those on the canal itself must be removed and the path recreated to discharge into Ikota river” he said.
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The Commissioner also visited Victoria Garden City (VGC) in Lekki where some home owners extended their approved plot beyond the five metres buffer Zone of VGC said that the extension will be pulled down to allow water to flow freely into the Lagoon.
“We cannot be brazen in our illegality and be brazen in our nonchalant attitude to the environment, it has to end, illegality cannot beget legality” he said.
He said Government had hitherto toed the line of Advocacy but the people have refused to change hence reasons why enforcement action have to be taken to make corrections where necessary.
He said home owners should ensure that they seek and obtain drainage approval alongside other approvals before embarking on their building projects to avert such situation.
“These Enforcement will be a continuous exercise, people cannot blame government for what they caused by their actions, whatever negative thing you do to the environment will come to haunt you eventually” he said.
Speaking on the closure and reopening of some major markets in the state, Tokunbo Wahab said that the markets were closed for running foul of the provision of the State Sanitation laws.
He said for any market upon closure, they were handed a checklist to be fulfilled and once these checklist are met, the market will be reopened.
“You need to see the unsightly state and scene in the markets before closure and we cannot allow our people to trade food commodities and other items in a dirty and filthy environment” he said.
He said Government is also undertaking a safety audit in the markets through the Safety Commission to ensure safety of lives of Traders and Patrons in market spaces.