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Occupants of Ogun shanties seek resettlement




Following the recent demolitions of shanties along the Ogun Sate corridor of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, some occupants of the shanties under some sections of the bridge have appealed to the government to assist them in resettling to a more conducive and convenient location.

The occupants, who spoke with PUNCH Metro on Thursday, lamented that the poor economic situation of the country had forced them to take shelter under the bridges.

They noted that while they understood the dangers of living under the bridges, the poor financial conditions they were faced with left them with no option.

 The Ogun State Government had on November 21 started demolishing shanties and makeshift structures in Kara on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

According to the task force, the shanties and illegal structures disfigured the corridor and were considered to be hideouts for criminals in the area.

PUNCH Metro reports that the operation was led by the Senior Special Assistant to the State Governor on Environment, Farouq Akintunde, who noted that  the exercise was meant to reposition the state as the industrial hub of Nigeria.

An occupant identified as Husseni noted that he was willing to relocate if the government could provide a suitable accommodation for them.

He said, “It is not a thing of joy that we are living under the bridge but the economic situation of the country warranted it. If the government can help us with better alternatives, we will definitely relocate.”

Another occupant, Muhammed Rabiu, expressed fears that the demolition embarked upon by the state government might force them out of the bridge which they had used as an abode for a while.

Rabiu said, “We are aware that there is an ongoing demolition and we understand that it is necessary but we are appealing to them to provide alternatives for us. I know that very soon the government will come for us here. That is why we are appealing to them.”

When contacted, the Ogun State Commissioner for Environment, Ola Oresanya, noted that there were plans to remove all illegal structures that might not align with the plans of the state in beautification including illegal structures under the bridges. He however stressed that it was not within his jurisdiction to provide alternative resettlement option for the occupants of the shanties.

“What we are doing in the Ministry of Environment is in the interest of the environment. A resettlement plan has to do with the Ministry of Physical Planning and Social Welfare.

“What we are concerned with is public hygiene as we cannot open our eyes and see human values degraded where people who stay under the bridge, men, women and children defecate openly under the bridge. That is dehumanising and this is a state where we place high premium on human lives and social values. We are going to demolish everything under the bridge so they better be aware,” Oresanya concluded.