Abesan Estate… Where non-functional services utilities diminish living
Residential estates are generally believed to be safe havens for the residents. This is largely because of structures, regulations and extra measures emplaced to ensure the safety of lives and property. Among these measures are stringent restrictions to non-residents, commercial vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles all geared towards preventing arbitrary access.
Abesan Low-Income Housing Estate is one of such estates in Lagos State. With more than a thousand blocks of two-storey and three-storey low-rise buildings consisting of about 4, 272 housing units of two bedrooms (2,112 units), and three bedroom (2, 160 units). Presently, the estate gives an impression of being highly populated, and having a very “open” character.
Commissioned by the then Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, in December, 1983, it is one of the 16 low-income housing estates and considered the biggest government estate in Lagos with a size unarguably larger than any other housing estate, according to literature sighted online.
The Abesan Housing Scheme was a project of Lagos State government conceived in 1980 by the Lagos State Development and Planning Cooperation (LSDPC). It had such facilities as open field/spaces, land allocated for commercial purposes, religious facilities, recreation spaces, road network, sewers, electrification and other rudimentary infrastructure. And in its early years, the facility exhibited some qualities of a modern and conventional estate such as adequate security, good inner roads, and adequate power supply, among others.
However, as the years rolled by, things began to deteriorate. Security became compromised as commercial vehicles that initially were not allowed to have parks in the estate began to have a field day, while garages built for car owners were soon occupied by strange motorcycle riders. Inner roads began to develop pot holes and the peace that characterised every sector began to disappear and replaced by fear and suspicion.
According to the President, Abesan Estate Residents Association, Pa Michael Aderemi Kehinde, one major challenge facing residents is that of security.
“Abesan Estate falls under Egbeda Okunola Local Council Development Area. All we need is the cooperation of the council to checkmate the intrusion of vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles in the estate. I would not know any settlement called an estate that is so porous as Abesan Estate. motorcyclists, tricycle riders and commercial vehicle owners from different locations in Lagos State have found their way to the estate to have their parks. Vehicles coming from Cotonou via Idiroko have made the estate their route with reckless abandon while there are also parks for vehicles going to different locations in the state and neighbouring Ogun State.
“Property of the residents including pumping machines and air conditioners have been stolen. This is besides attacks on people. We want to man the estates gate by ourselves to checkmate some of the excesses of transporters. We have registered our grievances with the Chairman, Egbeda Okunola LCDA, Olabisi Adebajo who promised to look into the matter.
“The residents need her assistance to checkmate the uncontrollable intrusion into the estate and to ensure the security of lives and property. Only approved vehicles should operate within Abesan Estate like other estates,” Pa Kehinde said.
The estate is also contending with bad roads across its expanse.
According to a resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the inner roads were once good and smooth to drive on.
However, as the years rolled by, due to the lack of maintenance, the roads began to cave in.
“Of course, the consequence of the negligence is that the usual pleasurable rides on the roads have given way to agonising experiences. Today, some of the inner roads have totally collapsed. Weeds have taken over quality roads that residents used to boast of and it is now commonplace to see drivers driving in opposite directions.
“The estate is living on past glory and the earlier the government comes to our aid, the better. The good work that Governor Lateef Jakande did should be preserved. We call on the authorities concerned to fix the roads, so that residents would smile again,” he said.
Commenting on the condition of the roads, Kehinde said there had been little or no efforts to improve the roads within the estate since it was commissioned 40 years ago. He added that the roads are still those built by late Governor Jakande while successive administrations have done little or nothing to improve the condition of the roads.
“In March 2021, we wrote to the Managing Director, Lagos State Building Investment Corporation (LBIC) over some amenities that we lack, including good roads. We are yet to get a reply. We wrote another letter, addressed it to the Lagos State Public Works Corporation. The road that leads to the estate’s fire station is so bad, and in the event of a fire incident, before the vehicle comes out, the damage would have been done.
“On the issue of water, there was what could be best described as a white elephant water project in 2020 or so, that was used to extort money from the residents because it never worked. Residents were asked to pay 50 per cent of the money charged, which many complied with, but I am not sure that the project lasted six months before it packed up.
“We also have a health centre that is meant for residents that is yet to be completed. The state government is to carry out stability test on the three floors of the building, but the council is yet to pay the sum of N300, 000.00 to carry out the test, which has left the building bare at Akinyele Bus Stop.
Operations of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in the estate also fall below standard. Many residents are complaining that the agency works in fits and starts yet is very prompt in sending in its bills. There are houses without occupants, yet they keep sending bills to empty flats. They decided to increase their levy to N1, 200.00 per month while a lot of occupants are retirees. We told them to create a register for people to append their signatures whenever they come to collect their refuse, but they bluntly refused,” Kehinde said.
A resident, called Makinde, also complained of bad roads, insecurity, clogged drainage and the failed water project. He added that if they truly mean business with the water project, they should link it with Adiyan.
Another resident, Olanrewaju Oni, an engineer, said LAWMA agents wants money and do not want to render services. In the past, they have not been collecting my refuse because they would not expect me not go to work. A lot of residents have similar complaints.
The legal officer, Abesan Residents Association, Teslim Bello, also noted that the LAWMA has not been very effective in its services and threatened to take the residents to court over non-payment of their bills. “We made them to know that if they do their work well, the residents would pay.”
Another resident, Wola said there were LAWMA refuse bins at Iyana Ipaja and other places where residents could dispose of their refuse and wondered why they were being forced to patronise LAWMA or whether it is because the estate is under the government.
When the Special Assistant Works, Mrs. Aramide Adeyemi was called to comment, she asked the reporter to come to her office for comments since the last reporter that called distorted the information given to him.
The Managing Director, LAWMA, Ibrahim Odunboni assured that the case would be properly looked into by LAWMA officials visiting Abesan Estate to iron things out with the people, even though from his findings, the residents have not been complying with the payment of their bills.
Lagos State Commissioner for information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said: “I know that Abesan Low Cost Housing Estate also known as Jakande Estate is very important to the government and it is one of the estates that the Government is trying to do something about and make them modern and more habitable for people. So, whatever is happening there is not because government does not care for the people. It is because government has a big grand plan for estates such as Abesan Estate.
We have a very big work we want to do across the estates, including the estate as part of our urban regeneration plan. As for all those complaints about people turning the estate to miscreants hideouts, parks, and smugglers carrying their vehicles across the estate, residents should try as much as possible to help themselves to have their rules and regulations, which no one would be able to break. On the part of government, we are going to do whatever we need to do to help.
My colleague has a comprehensive plan about what they are doing for that particular estate. What I have given is a general overview that the Lagos State government is trying to improve all the estates that have been built a long time ago, so that, they can become more habitable for our people.”
When the Chairman, LCDA, Egbeda Okunola, Olabisi Adebajo was contacted, she said there was no way the gate could be locked. She added that a notice from the Ministry of Transportation mandates street gates to be opened between 5.00 a.m. and 12.00 mid-night, to be manned by security personnel engaged by the community resident association and must be opened for emergency services such as police, ambulance and fire service among others, otherwise such gates would be removed.
“I have called the authorities of the Estate for a meeting a number of times on the influx of the Commercial tricycle operators and motorcycle riders, so that we can profile the people, but that has not worked.
“I also found out that they want to be getting stipends from commercial motorcycle operators and their tricycle counterparts to be paying the security personnel who we have been paying.
“I told them to write us on the number of motorcycle riders, copy the task force and together we will chase them out.
“There was a time I went to task force that they should come and chase them away. They came, chased them away, but they still came back. Another truth is that Abesan Estate is very big and we just have to be in charge. There are six CDAs inside the Estate. Each sector should have their security or vigilante and threat of thieves would cease. The conclusion is that we can join hands together to chase the commercial riders and those they do not want out. I do not have any vested interest in any of them,” she said.
The Public Relations Officer, Abesan Resident Association, Olufemi Odeyemi commended Adebisi for her cooperation with the association towards resolving all the grievances enumerated, which had won her an award during the celebration of the Estate’s 40th anniversary.