Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola today inspected the Adeniji-Adele Housing Estate in Central Lagos, announcing to the residents plans by his administration to commence redevelopment of the estate to avoid loss of life as a result of the collapse of any of the buildings.
Many houses on the estate, which was built on a reclaimed land more than two decades ago, are noticeably in very bad conditions with many of the ground floors already submerged in water while the walls of most of the buildings are cracked and showing signs of serious structural defect.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the inspection, Governor Fashola said many houses in the estate, particularly phases 1 to 4, fall into the aforementioned category of buildings adding, “You will see from what we saw there that some of the ground floors have been abandoned and deserted. But the truth is that those buildings are going to collapse”.
“You understand Lagos terrain, most of it is water and that is why you see on the Island particularly most of the land there is white sand, swamp, land claimed from the sea. So, that kind of land requires special attention to foundations, in most cases you have to pile, whether short or long pile, to achieve structural stability”, he said.
Noting that there were issues that had delayed Government intervention in the estate in the last three years such as where to move the residents and so on, Governor Fashola declared, however that his administration has come to the decision that the residents must be moved out to avoid loss of life.
“The reality is that these buildings would come down. So we have come to the reality that we must just take the tough decision and we must just bite the bullet. People must have to leave those places otherwise we are coming back there to carry out dead bodies. I don’t want to do that”, he said. On the modalities to be adopted in rebuilding the place, Governor Fashola said, “The strategy would be that we have found the chairman of all the four phases. We met the chairman of phase 3 and he has assured us that he and his people sign on to this agreement and we have told them, ‘give us evacuated blocks, we will move in, we will pull them down and rebuild them”.
Noting that Phase 3 of the Estate is the most vulnerable, the Governor, who said the redevelopment would start from that phase explained further, “Once we have access to Phase 3, we can build enough that allows us to begin to disengage people from Phase 4 into Phase 3 and then move them back into their quarters when we finish. But we must start from Phase 3”. On the question raised by some of the residents which border on ensuring that allottees are restored to their redeveloped flats, Governor Fashola declared, “Those that have any doubt should engage legal advice and we are ready to sign agreements and commitments that we would put them back there. That is the only assurance that I can give, my word of honour and a commitment to an agreement”.
“If you show me your title that you are the owner, I will sign that I will put you back there. Of course, if for any reason we do not fulfill the agreement, which we do not intend to do, then you can enforce it against us as a matter of contract. But I don’t think we will get to that. My word of honour I will keep”, he said. Giving an insight into the incidence of collapsed buildings, the Governor explained that many houses built 30 to 40 years ago on swamps, white sand or lands reclaimed from the sea without the proper foundation to achieve structural stability are the type of houses which have collapsed in recent times in the State adding that the peculiar terrain requires special attention being paid to the foundation which was not done then.
“Apart from the building that collapsed in Ishaga which was under construction and one church building which was also under construction, many, if not all, of the buildings that have collapsed in recent past are buildings that have long since been built that have aged 30 to 40 years and when at the time that they were built, they were not properly built”.
Fashola, who also inspected the Ebute -Ero Jetty, Elegbeta in Central Lagos, said although the ferries were not yet here in the number that the Government want them, there are already about 80 ferries on the Lagos Waterways conveying no less than 1.8 million passengers monthly across the waterways.
“Don’t come on a weekend; come on week days, from Ikorodu all the way to Amuwo-Odofin all the way to Lekki, Badore, now ferry ridership has increased to 1.8 million passengers being moved monthly on our ferries. So the capacity is ramping up”, the Governor said.
He explained that the three ferries anchored at the Ebute-Ero Jetty on Sunday were awaiting inspection on Monday (today) adding, “So, that is the inspection point. One is owned by one operator and the other two owned by another operator who wants to start running on the waterways”.
“They have brought them there today for inspection and to certify them safe for the waterways to start service. So the numbers are increasing gradually; certainly not in the numbers that we want them because some of the terminals are in the final phases of completion”, the Governor said.
He said government is reviewing requests for concessions because it wants to concession the management of the jetties out and the terminal buildings, adding, “Of course we are starting also a Lagos Ferry Service which is Government owned ferry service to run a subsidy on the waterways with a few boats to complement what the private operators will be doing”.
Explaining the reason for his stopover to inspect a piece of land on 57 Marina on the Island, Governor Fashola said, he got a report that some people trespassed on this land.
“This is government land, very prime government land. Some families apparently claimed that they have transferred the land to one company and that company has apparently contracted Cappa and Dalbato to build whatever here. Not only do we not have any application for construction, there is no planning permit. But more compounding is the fact that this is a risk building that is about to be started without a building plan and we will not allow it. But more importantly, this land belongs to Lagos State. It was acquired from the old WEMABOD in the 1970s and vested in the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) through its predecessor in title then, the Lagos Executive Development Board (LEDB)”, Fashola explained.
He said the issues of compensation still arise between himself and the other governors in the Southwest who are the inheritors of WEMABOD adding, “But there is no private title here. All of that has been extinguished by acquisition. So this is a very strange development and we are here just to clear the air and get our law enforcement officers to come and give support to LSDPC to ensure that there is no further trespass on this land and, indeed, there is no illegal development here”.
Also accompanying the Governor on the inspection were the Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Umar Manko, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Toyin Ayinde, Managing Director of LSDPC, Mr. Biodun Oki among other top government functionaries.