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LAMATA’s threat of demolition

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
08 August 2021   |   2:33 am
When the Yaba Bus Terminal was unveiled by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently, it was with fanfare. While speaking at the commissioning, the governor said the Bus Terminal was one of the projects....

This is 39, Maye Street, one of the houses marked for demolition

• 96-year-old Woman Suffers Stroke
• Seeks Sanwo-Olu’s Intervention
• ‘We’ve Not Confirmed Demolition’

When the Yaba Bus Terminal was unveiled by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently, it was with fanfare. While speaking at the commissioning, the governor said the Bus Terminal was one of the projects executed under the state transportation master plan and a milestone in his administration’s drive to consistently provide ultramodern infrastructure to meet the transportation needs of the people.

But in achieving its aim, government displaced the Yellow commercial buses that hitherto used the spot occupied by the Terminal as their parking lot or garage in street parlance. Many traders, who were operating within the old garage corridor, were also displaced.

It is perhaps in a bid to create a new parking bay for the displaced Yellow buses and the construction of a market that agents of the State Government from the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) moved to acquire some plots of land within a stone throw of the new Yaba Terminal. The move saw three houses, Nos 39 to 41 on Maye Street, Yaba marked for demolition.

The development has, however, left some residents of the affected properties in anxiety and uncertainty as to what would be their fate should the planned demolition gets carried out.

The three houses – Nos 39 to 41 – were marked for demolition by LAMATA via a red paint on July 13, 2021, without prior notice.
 
Though the affected people have written a petition to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, followed by a visit to LAMATA’s office, in a bid to avert what they termed an injustice, their apprehension has been increasing as the days roll by. The reality of their investments of many years going down the drain has become a nightmare.
  
The Guardian learnt that the owner of House No 39, a 96-year-old Mrs. (Lady) Beatrice Egboh, who has been living in the house since 1960, has developed stroke, induced by the shock from the news of impending demolition.

It was further learnt that LAMATA failed to comply with procedures required in the acquisition of the houses, as there were no prior notification or consultation or any form of engagement by the government agency before the houses were marked.

One of the affected residents, Frank Egboh, who confirmed to The Guardian that only three houses were affected, explained that other houses on the street were not marked, especially the newly built five-storey building directly behind his house.

He said: “On July 19, 2021, I personally went to LAMATA to deliver a complaint letter against the markings on our fence. I wanted clarifications on the markings and why we were not given any formal letter or notification. However, LAMATA’s response simply confirmed that they were wrong to have marked our houses for likely demolition without prior notification or consultation. A member of staff of LAMATA also told me during my visit that it was wrong to have marked our houses without due notification or consultation. 

“On further enquiries on why only our house and two others were marked, leaving others on the same street unmarked, we were told that LAMATA needed that space to build a market and a parking bay for the Yellow buses.”

In a petition sent to the Governor, a copy of which was made available to The Guardian, Egboh said LAMATA failed to comply with procedures required in compulsory acquisition of their property. 

“The indiscriminate markings of our houses depicts unfairness and irrationality in the sense that, why should our house and two others be marked for demolition whilst others on the same stretch were left unmarked? Particularly, why was the building behind our house that is closer to Yaba Bus Stop not marked for demolition? Our house is further away from the bus stop, not even close to the right of way of the railway line construction and it’s well in a residential area. 

“We were told by LAMATA that our house is being demolished to create space to build a market and garage for Yellow buses. This is definitely not justifiable, considering the size of the land being acquired. This is aside the fact that it will not be proper and conducive to have a market and garage for Yellow buses close to a residential area. Yaba is a residential estate and creating such facilities will only destroy the environment and introduce miscreants into the neighbourhood.”

Continuing, Egboh said: “Looking at the Master Plan of the railway line construction, our house is not on the right of way of the new railway line or even close to it to justify the compulsory acquisition for overriding public interest. So, demolishing our house to create space for a market and Yellow buses park is, indeed, not fair to our family that has lived in this estate for over 60 years.

“I, therefore, urge the Lagos State government to review its decision and the master plan and find another land right in Yaba Bus Stop for the Yellow buses parking bay. Tejuosho Market is the largest in Africa. There are still so many shops that are unoccupied at Tejuosho Market and can be used, instead of placing a market in a residential area.”

In the petition, Egboh lamented that the threat has greatly affected the health of his 96-year-old mum, and she was rushed to the hospital after falling ill. “She is critically ill in the hospital, suffering from a stroke. Now, she can’t walk or make use of her hands. This is due to the shock of the news that her house has been marked for demolition, without due engagement, notification and consultation to prepare her mind.

“It was a rude shock to the family and particularly my mum, who has resided there for more than 60 years. And suddenly the family woke up one day to see markings on the house for demolition. This is clearly a wrongful and irrational act by LAMATA and against natural justice.

“In the light of the above, I ask that you use your good office to review LAMATA’s decision to demolish our house, just for the purpose of having a market or garage for Yellow buses close to a quiet residential estate and to look for another land to relocate market/garage for the Yellow buses.” 

Mrs. Titi, who spoke on behalf of 81-year-old Mrs. Carew, a retired Director, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, who owns house No 41, confirmed that there was no notification before the markings.

She wondered why such is happening now, when her mum is supposed to sit down and relax, after serving the state. “They haven’t engaged us, not to talk of negotiation and evaluation,” she stated. “There have not even been discussions on resettlement. Suddenly, they just came to mark our house, telling us that they want to use it for public purpose. What is the public purpose? Is it possible for a rail line to pass through a residential house? You can’t pick just three houses in a whole street, claiming you are doing cost-benefit analysis, leaving the fourth because it is still new. What about the emotional trauma? Will financial analysis be more than emotional trauma?”

She pleaded with Governor Sanwo-Olu “to use his good office to undo what has been done.”But the Assistant Director, Corporate Communications, LAMATA, Kolawole Ojelabi told The Guardian on phone that there is no plan to demolish the houses. “We have just served the notice that we might need to demolish the houses. We have not really confirmed the demolition.

“A lawyer has written us, and we have not said we are demolishing the properties. It’s just to identify projects that might be taken off for transport infrastructure.”