Ogun communities protest against planned demolition of houses for rail interchange

Residents of Orange Estate, Ogo-Oluwa, Gbegira and Olorombo communities at Loto-Mowe in Ofada-Mokolokin Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Ogun State yesterday staged a peaceful protest against Federal Government’s planned demolition of their houses for new interchange along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The protesters, comprising about 2,000 people, including men, women and youths, carried placards with various inscriptions calling on the Federal Government to stop the demolition.

The communities, which claimed that no fewer than 1,500 houses had been marked for demolition on both sides of the expressway (Loto, Pakuro, Orange Estate, Ogo-Oluwa, Gbegira and Olorombo communities), said no notice of engagement had been made with the communities before the markings and enumeration of buildings by the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing.

They said the Right of Way (RoW) already marked out by the contractors handling the project spanned a distance of 120 metres.The residents also said they were aware that their counterpart neighbour, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) on whose behalf the project is being sited at Loto area because of its monthly Holy Ghost and yearly convention programmes, which generate high traffic and vehicular movement, had been having talks with the ministry and the contractor and had rejected construction of the interchange at their Car Park ‘C’ area because of the volume of land it will need. The RCCG, they said, rather preferred a flyover at Loto area.

In their protest letter, the communities said: “We totally condemn the action of the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing for not engaging the residents as communities before marking our houses for demolition. “We totally reject and condemn a project that will wipe out the entire communities, which had suffered and spent all their hard-earned savings to provide shelter for themselves even at a time when the government had failed to provide for the citizens.”

A resident of the Orange Estate Community Development Association (CDA), Surveyor Kehinde Isijola, who spoke on behalf of the communities, said the residents preferred a flyover bridge with little modification and service lanes in and out of the community as alternative to the bogus interchange.

Meanwhile, in a report by The Guardian recently, a representative of the ministry, Olayiwola Komolafe, had said the project was set up by the Federal Government to make commuting easy. Speaking at a meeting with the Pakuro community, Komolafe had said: “When the road was first designed, these developments were not in the design. But when the government discovered that the roads constructed now are too large for people to cross, augmentation and flyovers were introduced.” (THE GUARDIAN)