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Abesan Estate dwellers still reeling from demolition three months after

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The dusts might not have settled three months after bulldozers rolled into Abesan Estate, Ipaja, pulling down so-called illegal structures.

The order by Ms. Folushade Folivi, Managing Director of the Lagos State Building Investment Company (LBIC), might have been another of government’s desire to make Lagos look better.

Ironically, in the eyes of the governed at the estate, reputed as the biggest in Nigeria, the action was not well thought out and was designed to inflict the most pain.

The heavy machines with their huge metallic jaws knocked down shops, containers and kiosks. The residents however insist the destruction didn’t stop there.

While some mourned the loss of veritable means of livelihood in an unsmiling economy, others lamented the discomfort their lives had suddenly been thrown into. Besides, they regretted the failure of the demolition squad to come clean up the eyesore it had created.

“More importantly, the debris from the demolished structures has been turned to a night marauders’ den used to perpetrate evil.

When the shop owners were here, they lit up the place. Now that they have been displaced, the entire area is overtaken at night by darkness.

In fact, the estate looks like a ghost city. When there is no power supply, these marauders seize the opportunity to rape and snatch bags,” said Pastor Kehinde Ogundimu, President of Abesan Estate Residents’ Association (AERA).

One of the inhabitants, Tunde Adebayo, explained that traders from whom he bought household items in the area are pensioners or graduates who set up business to make both ends meet. He concluded: “The demolition has done more harm than good. It has taken away people’s means of livelihood.

Some youths in the estate have already returned to their days of petty stealing. The environment is also unsightly because many of the structures were not pulled down completely.

Besides, it has made the buying of little household items difficult. What someone might have bought just a few blocks away can now be purchased only miles away from my home.”

Abdulganiyu Olabaniyi Taiwo, President General of Jakande Estates, recalled the run up to the demolition: “We were helpless in the sense that we tried to let her (Folivi) know the consequences of what she was about to do, but she turned deaf ears.

We ran to the Lagos House of Assembly and they did nothing. About two months ago, they invited and questioned her. But I see this is as medicine after death approach because the deed was already done.

She promised to make the estates beautiful. This was all we got. We are in court; the case has been adjourned till March.

But I realise that if you are taking government to a government court, you might not achieve anything. All the estates are in shambles. We are hoping to get justice from the court,” he said.

Taiwo disclosed that retirees owned 70 per cent of the shops in the estate. He said the notice of demolition at Isolo Jakande Estate was served only to persons whose structures were on sewage lanes.

He wondered therefore why Folivi would order the demolition of all shops, containers and kiosks at Abesan Estate for the mere purpose of wanting to beautify the place.

Ogundimu called on LBIC to do a clean up on time, so that the estate can have a facelift, adding: “The retail market in the estate is in one location, which is not centralised. It has 300 shops for a population of over 60,000 people. This is grossly inadequate. This is a call to LBIC to build more shops. And thankfully, there are empty lands unused.

“With the demolition, it has been difficult to buy daily household needs. The purpose of the clean up has been defeated because no palliative measure was put in place to ameliorate the conditions of people.

It is also on record that people have died as a result of these demolitions, due to shock and joblessness. If you must take something from someone, you must also give back. This is a natural law. But in this case, nothing like that has happened.”


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