Alaba International Market demolition done to save lives— Lagos govt

The Lagos State Government says the recent demolition of distressed buildings in Alaba International Market in Ojo Local Council was neither a witch-hunt nor intended to acquire the land.

The demolition, the Lagos govt said, was done to save lives.

Mr. Gbolahan Oki, General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, said this on Saturday during an on-the-spot assessment of the demolition site.

Oki visited the market amid heavy downpours alongside his counterpart in Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority, Mr. Kehinde Osinaike, and the seven-man committee set up by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the aftermath of the demolition exercise.

They were led on the trip by Mr Oluwole Sotire, Permanent Secretary of their parent parastatal, the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that South-East traders in the market, led by Imo Governor, Mr Hope Uzodimma, met with Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos to put to rest allegations of tribal bias in the demolition exercise.

During the spot assessment, Oki explained that the demolition was simply to enforce building regulations and laws, to prevent building collapse.

According to him, most of the demolished buildings were without permits, adding that necessary documentation needed by the state government was also ignored.

“All we are after is that the lives of traders and other Nigerians are extremely important to the Lagos State Government.

“I have seen people painting buildings that are dilapidated. That is not good. It is not painting that makes a building new. Our lives are more important,” he said.

Oki urged owners of distressed buildings marked for demolition to remove them within two weeks, to prevent disaster, or else the government would move in to take action.

“My mandate is to remove anything that is dilapidated, that is harmful to the people that even owns it,” he said.

The General Manager said Governor Sanwo-Olu set up the seven-man committee to look into the demolition without causing disaffection among the traders at Alaba International Market.

He stated that the LASBCA officials were usually prevented from enforcing laws by people who failed to get building plan approvals or those who did the illegal conversion of their properties.

NAN reports that the LASBCA boss waded through flash floods to issue a stop work order on a contractor on site from the Ojo Local Government, for amicable resolution of all issues.

He assured protesters carrying placards that the government had their interests covered with the appointment of an additional 17-man sub-committee compromising their market leadership, for quicker resolution of issues.

Oki explained why distressed buildings were being demolished

He said this was because of issues of land grabbers selling one land to several people as well as the need to correct haphazard development.

Earlier, the general manager and his team had a meeting with the leadership of the Alaba International Market traders at LASBCA head office at Ikeja GRA, before they all embarked on the trip to the market.

During the meeting, the market leaders who are members of the seven-man technical committee set up to look into the issues of demolition in Alaba International Market discussed the way forward.

The LASBCA boss explained processes and procedures guiding laws on physical developments and what must be done to comply with the regulation.

He said that there was no ethnic colouration to the decisions of the government, whose only motive was to prevent building collapse and to ensure the safety of lives of the traders and other Nigerians.

Mr. Chris Maduka, Secretary to the seven-man Technical Committee on Alaba International Demolition, commended the action of the government to sanitise the market.

Maduka said it had brought them closer and was in the best interest of everybody, to save traders from touts extorting them with various conflicting taxes and illegal levies.

During the on-the-spot assessment of the market, Maduka appealed for cooperation and understanding of the traders affected by the demolition exercise.

He said that taking to protest or violence would defeat the purpose for which Sanwo-Olu set up the Committee.

Some of the affected traders carrying placards with various inscriptions at the market pleaded with Sanwo-Olu to fast-track the assignment of the committee to restore their means of livelihood.


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