New Telegraph

Agony as bulldozers demolish over 200 homes

In the last two weeks, the Department of Development Control, Federal Capital Territory had rolled out its bulldozers, leaving behind destruction, pains and agony for over 200 home owners. CALEB ONWE reports

 

 

The bulldozers, although operated by human beings, are never amenable to tears of its human victims. Once they start steaming, the only language they understand, is ” pull it down” First, it was in Giri-Kpasere, a squatter settlement in Gwagwalada Area Council, where about 102 houses were demolished. Inside Abuja gathered that the bulldozers were mobilized to that place, after a flash flood swept away five members of a family.

 

A mother and her four children were taken away by the angry flood, leaving only the head of the family said to have been away when the tragedy struck. FCT Department of Development Control said the demolished houses, especially those built very close to the water channel had been marked more than one year ago, giving those affected enough time to relocate to a safer place.

 

Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Department of Department Control, Garba Kwamkur, who led the team to the demolition exercise, said that government could not spare the houses anymore, following the recent forecast of more rains and consequential flooding that will affect the area.

 

Kwamkur noted the community is part of the land covering about 260 hectares allocated within the Abuja Master Plan for the development of the University of Abuja, Gwagwalada, but some indigenous people and other squatters have been staying there temporarily. “The university has written to us about the encroachment issue.

 

The settlement here that’s due for resettlement has grown beyond it’s boundary. And we have issue of flood some time last week, where  five persons, who were carried away by the flood, were confirmed dead. “We actually had to discuss it with the village leaders on the need to move away from the flood plain area. FEMA has also predicted that there would be heavy flood this year, so we are doing something like a precautionary measure, that’s why all the buildings along the flood plains will have to go.

 

“And all contravention notices have been givenas far back as last year (2019). No government will sit down and do nothing when the lives of its citizens are being threatened by either flood or any other thing,” he said. The Chief of the Community,

 

Mr. Isah Egari who said he is not opposing the demolition of the houses built on the water channels however, pleaded with government to give the residents more time to move out from the affected places. Egari also called on the demolition team to restrict the bulldozers to the areas close to the water channels, so as not to impose undue hardship on other residents who were not affected. A week after the 102 houses went down at Giri-Kpasere, the bulldozers moved into Kyami District, one of the places mapped out for mass housing. At Kyami, about 25 houses were pulled down within a few hours.

 

This time around, it was not because the houses obstructed the free flow of water, but because, the developers failed to get requisite approval from the appropriate government agencies. Inside Abuja observed that not even the tears of Madam Roseline, owner og one of the offending buildings could stop the angry bulldozers.

 

Kyami is a new district behind Gosa, and is located along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Road. Most of the buildings there, are still   under construction, and some that have been completed, are still not being occupied by people.

 

Inside Abuja, gathered that Madam Roseline like many other unsuspecting buyers of homes in some of the estates within the New District are oblivious of the fact , that some of the estate developers there built houses without approval.

 

Director of the Department of Development Control, Muktar Galadima who led the exercise in Kyami disclosed that most of the buildings there fell short of what government expected from the mass housing developers. It was also learnt that many of the buildings there were constructed during the COVID-19 lockdown, when almost all government offices and activities were not functional.

Galadima also noted that some of the developers of the illegal structures, were victims of land racketeering and grabbing, who also commenced development without any recourse to the Abuja Master Plan.

 

Galadima said, “The FCT Administration has already made it clear that the actions and activities of land racketeers cannot and will never be condoned. That’s why we are removing all those illegal developments.

 

“About 25 solid structures were removed, and this is not limited to that estate (Destiny Estate) alone, it’s a continuous exercise and we will remove all illegal structures across the Territory.

 

“So, what you see here is a continuation of the exercise in tackling the issue of land racketeers and land grabbers in Abuja,” he said. Galadima warned members of the public to always ensure compliance and obey the rules and regulations guiding developments in the nation’s capital.

 

“Abuja is a planned city and you cannot just wake up, cut a chunk of land for yourself and be selling or building for whatever purpose. We will find out and we will surely remove such illegalities and also punish those involved,” he said.

 

Inside Abuja also learnt that few weeks ago, Galadima also led his men on a similar mission to a property in Lugbe, located behind Dunamis Church, and pulled down structures on another illegal estate allegedly being handled by four developers: Seman Metropolis Estate, Excellent Mega City, St. Michael Villa and Had Hadassan Estate. In all the exercises, the developers were alleged to have neither allocation papers nor development  plan approval to embark on such developments.

 

The most emotional of all the demolition exercises, was the pulling down of about 134 houses in Apo Akpmajenya indigenous community. Inside Abuja learnt that these 134 houses in the community had to go, to pave way for the construction of a major road network in the area. Inside Abuja’s investigation showed that this community had been compensated and relocated to another place long ago, but had refused to leave the place.

 

The demolition exercise was coordinated by the FCT Task Force on City Sanitation, under the leadership of Mr Ikharo Attah. Attah noted that several attempts had been made to clear the village and allow the construction company handling the road projects continue with the work, but the community have always resist such moves.

 

He also revealed that sometime, in the month of July, a seven days notice was given to the residents to vacate the place, and later, through the intervention of FCT Minister, Mallam Muhammad Bello, the notice was extended. Also speaking about the removal of the community, Muktar Galadima, the Director, Department of Development Control, explained that the community was earlier marked for demolition since January, 2020.

 

Galadima also said that prior to the demolition, the FCTA through its relavant agencies, had interface with the inhabitants of the settlement on the need for them to vacate the area, because it falls under the corridor of the planed outer Southern Express Way (OSEX).

 

He said the community falls on one of road interchanges linking Oladipo Diya, which is an arterial road with the outer Southern express way. Malam Nasir Suleiman, Deputy Director, Planning and Resettlement, Department of Resettlement and Compensation, said the 131 houses and 169 plots were given for compensation to the members of the affected Akpmajenya indigenous community

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