A Lagos State Government Task Force, on Sunday, demolished the popular Agboju Market, shanties and other illegal buildings on Buffa Zone in Festac Town, leaving some traders, artisans and others with a lot of disappointment and sorrow.
The task force, in collaboration with the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), demolished over 100 shops, shanties and other buildings at the place which is located on 2nd Avenue, Festac Town.
According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), traders, mechanics and other artisans operating in the area counted their losses as bulldozers turned their goods, stores and workshops into rubbles.
The report says that while some traders and artisans hurriedly moved out some of their wares and tools, many of them could not adding that some churches operating at the place were seen removing their property, the roofs and gates in case of demolition.
The Vice President, Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Mr Isaac Kadiri, described the demotion as a disaster as the government had not made available an alternative place.
Kadiri said, ”We believe that if the government wants to chase us away, it should give us an alternative but it just gave us seven days’ notice to leave. We had an alternative place at 6th Avenue that was given to us by FESTAC Town Residents Association and Federal Housing Authority but the place is not ready.
We put the access roads here, but look at what we are losing. We have lost more than 100 million here. What we have lost here we can’t gain back. We have mechanics, battery chargers, vulcanisers, panel beaters and painters as our members.
We were served the seven days’ ultimatum through Lagos State Task Force, which claimed FHA invited it to carry out the demolition.”
He, therefore, called on the government to urgently provide an alternative place for the artisans and others affected by the demolition.
He said, “We want the government to give us a place where we can earn our living. If it says the site is ready tomorrow, we will move. We were paying rent to Amuwo Odofin Local Government. We are paying tax to Lagos State Government. We pay rent of N10,000 each, per annum. We are more than 5,000 artisans.”
An affected occupant, a panel beater and painter, Mr Hamad Tijani, said: “When we got here, it was just bushes and swamp; nothing was here but we sand-filled the place and many people are benefitting from here now. Government should help us as citizens of this country, there is no place for us to go.”
A mechanic. Who was also affected, Mr Fatai Onidolu, alleged that the place allocated to the artisans by FHA at 6th Avenue had been sold.
He said, “So where do they want us to go now? They gave us seven days’ notice which is too short to find an alternative. Why are they treating us this way?”
It can be recalled that earlier in the year, the Lagos State Government intensified its collaboration with the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) on the restoration of FESTAC Town and addressing the degeneration of its infrastructure.
This move is seen as part of joint efforts aimed at resolving cases of illegal structures such as unapproved constructions and all forms of attachments within the estate adding that they hope to address the challenge of excessive property development and lack of facility in the housing estate.