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Property owners demand compensation before demolition, govt disagrees
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Residents of Ibadan, Oyo State, heaved a sign of relief when government awarded construction and expansion of some roads in November 2016. They were happy that traffic logjam associated with the roads would be a thing of the past.
A total of 31.8 kilometre roads estimated to gulp over N28billion were awarded to contractors expected to be completed between 12 months and two years.
One of the projects is the expansion of Oke-Adu Junction/Agodi Gate/Idi-Ape/Iwo Road interchange, estimated at 3.2kilometres. It is a federal road, which awarded to CGC Nigeria at N3.63 billion for a duration of 12 months.
The road, one of the major arteries to the city, connects Ibadan-Ife Road, Ibadan-Iwo Road and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at the Iwo Road interchange. It leads to Ibadan Airport at Alakia, Government House, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Oje Market, Beere, Mapo and Molete.
But the expansion of the road will only take place between Oke-Adu Junction and Iwo Road interchange. As gathered many shops, pavements, buildings, kiosks and billboards beside the road on both sides will either be partially or completely demolished.
A tour of the areas by Daily Sun showed that property owners, traders that have kiosks, companies that have gantry billboards are angry with Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the state Ministry of Works and Federal Ministry of Works. Their anger stemmed from reports that the affected property owners and traders would not be compensated before the demolition of their structures.
Though the property owners and traders said they were not against the execution of the project in the overall public interest, government cannot demolish their structures without compensating them because the property are not illegal. They claimed to have certificates of occupancy issued by the state government and approved building plans.
The road used be a single lane and was dualised some years back. The current expansion is expected to add one lane to each of the two sections of the dual carriageway.
The property owners, however, received a shocker on February 1, 2017, when the Ministry of Lands and Transport gave them a two-week ultimatum to remove their structures. The ultimatum has elapsed, and the owners of structures on the axis are afraid that government may begin demolition of their structures any moment from now.
Mr. Tokunbo Oguntoyinbo is one of the property owners in the area. He told Daily Sun that he inherited the building from his father, saying the house was built over 70 years ago. But he said he is not against the project because of the overall benefits of it. He is, however, after compensation in cash and kind for property owners and traders at the belt of the road.
He appealed to government to pay compensation and at the same time resettle the traders before the commencement of the project: “If government said we would not be compensated before our property are demolished, where does the government want us to go in this period of recession? What about traders that will be affected? I think government should provide alternative place for them to do their businesses.
“We property owners on this axis are not against the expansion of this road. It is in public interest. The road has been awarded by the government already. But we should be compensated before they demolish our buildings. The government should have human face.
“I was in primary school when my father built the house. There was enough set-back to the road turn because it was a single lane road. It was dualised later and the construction reduced the setback to the road. This is federal road and we cannot be ejected just like that.
“We are appealing to Ajimobi to ensure that we are paid compensation before bulldozers will come and demolish our structures. We have approved building plans and certificates of occupancy, which we validly obtained from the state government.”
Mr. Akin Ibiyode, another property owner, said: “The government said we would be compensated after the demolition. But the government should compensate us appropriately on our structures. This road was dualised during military era in this state and many of our fences were demolished and we were not compensated.”
Mr Biodun Fadare owns property owner at Iwo Road. He said the house was built by his father, who is now 96 years old. According to him, his father is not happy that the government wants to demolish the building without paying compensation.
However, Oguntoyinbo, Ibiyode, Fadere, Mr. Biodun Lawal and others demanded that government should extend the ultimatum to remove their structures from the right-of-way till December. They also prayed the government to compensate them before June so that they would move out of the right-of-way in good time, stressing that their structures are not illegal.
The Ekarun Olubadan of Ibadaland, Chief Hamidu Ajibade, who owns a shopping complex at Oke-Adu Junction, however, told Daily Sun: “I am in support of everything that will bring progress to Ibadanland. The road is important. I do not care whether the government wants to pay compensation before work begins or after the project. We property owners should cooperate with government.
“I own a shopping complex here. I asked the government to permit me to demolish the affected part of the complex by myself. So, I employed people carrying out the demolition manually. If I did not do that and the contractor brings bulldozer, the demolition will be worse.”
Commissioner for Works and Transport, Alhaji Wasiu Dauda, assured the owners of property and structures of professionalism as the demolition exercise and expansion of the road is about to commence. At a stakeholders’ meeting held with the owners of affected structures at the Ibadan North East Secretariat, Iwo Road, Ibadan, he said Ajimobi has the interest of citizens at heart, adding that the meeting was conveyed to interact and deliberate on the smooth operation of the project and to allay fears of the people:
“Governor Ajimobi is building a legacy and projecting Oyo State, especially Ibadan city, which is the largest and we’ll known in the world and road infrastructure as one of the indices that attracts investors and boos economy of the state.”
Dauda, however, appealed to owners of property and structures not to allow individual benefits to override general benefits as the government is not to inflict burden, discomfort their businesses, but rather see the road project as a necessary development.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr. Oyebola Oyedele, noted that the expansion of the road would bring enormous benefits to them, especially that the area is a commercial centre and the entry pint tk the city of Ibadan. He added that the project was aimed at bring succour to the citizens and to turn the state into an enviable status through provision of basic infrastructures.
As at the time of filing this report, Dauda could not be reached to respond to the request of the property owners that they should be compensated before their structures would be demolished. But a source within the ministry said: “It is not done anywhere that compensation would be paid before demolition. One thing I know is that the government will compensate them appropriately.
“But the affected owners of structures should take pictures of their buildings the way they are now. They should also take the pictures after the demolition. We have marked houses that will either be completely or partially demolished. If what is marked for demolition in your house is more than what is actually demolished, take the pictures and submit them to us.
“The property owners can as well employ the services of professionals to demolish the percentage marked for demolition in their houses and effect it. Any property owner that does that has made the job easier for us.
“Some property owners did the demolition themselves along Eleyele-Ologuneru and Ido Road that is under construction presently. They will be compensated, but they must carry this ministry along as they carry out the demolition. If they don’t, the contractor will do it for them.”