Families in central Lagos allege urban renewal breach

Ambode 11Almost a year after the change of baton at the seat of power in Lagos, property owners affected by fire disaster four year’s ago, which gulped eight buildings in the Adeniji Adele area of Lagos Island, otherwise known as Jankara, are apprehensive that the authorities may have dumped it’s megacity urban renewal scheme for the area.

On the heels of the fire incidence, government officials who inspected the area earmarked a total 21 more buildings within the vicinity as distressed, thus necessitating a total regeneration plan for the entire Okoya and Ojo Giwa streets covering a massive 10, 000 square meters discovered to be blighted area.

This brought the total affected houses to 29 mini high-rise buildings that were either burned in the inferno or marked for demolition by the government. The standing structures   now labeled as distressed were immediately served notices while some of them were pulled down.

The Guardian gathered  that the government’s plan for the area was to erect  a 15 storey commercial structure design to be jointly owned by the affected 18 families who originally own the land.

Notwithstanding the series of meetings held to work out modalities for redevelopment and regeneration for the blighted area to align with the State’s on-going megacity programme in the state under the auspices of development agencies (MDAs) comprising Lagos State Urban Renewal Authority (LASURA), Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) as well as Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the matter has moved no further.

At the meeting held specifically on the March 27, 2014, at the Conference Room, Lagos House Marina, the then governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola who was in attendance, assured the property owners that redevelopment of the area would be done to world standard specifications through seasoned and credible developers.

However, minutes of previous meetings made available to The Guardian revealed that the government expected the pooling of the affected land area to be optional for the owners. However, the owners are in turn alleging that this is not so in reality. According to them, there is an attached condition which government is not making public which says that individuals requiring approval to personally develop their property must have a minimum of 10, 000 square meters of land for their proposed project.

Resolutions made during the meeting with the former governor read in part: “ the property owners will not be forced to participate by pooling their lands together but will rather be encouraged to so even as the government is desirous of regenerating the entire stretch of Ojo Giwa and Okoya Streets”.

Some owners who spoke to The Guardian on the condition of anonymity revealed that they are ready to undertake the redevelopment of their plots of land but are being prevented d by the requirement of 10 000 square meters land to get approval. According to them, some of them actually insured their properties and have been indemnified by the insurance companies but cannot move to site to begin reconstruction of their burnt or demolished buildings.

It is for this same reason that we cannot even go to court because if we do and we win at the end of the day, who can force the government to give us approval for our individual plots? Meanwhile, the present government does not even seem to be aware of our existence. There has not ben a single meeting since this new government. So, we are just like abandoned project,” they complained.

When The Guardian paid a visit to the site, the already demolished areas showed signs of abandonment as they have become overgrown with grass with some portions now serving as dumpsites. At LASURA, top officials of the agency were unable to give a proper account to the situation of things with the blighted area.

Nevertheless, under the new government, and with a recent reshuffling of key agency executives, officials of LASURA which is the apex agency in charge of the redevelopment seem unaware of government’s new position at Okoya and Ojo Giwa streets on the bustling Island.

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