*Demolishes unauthorised structures in housing estates

Segun James

 

Lagos state government and owners of properties in stateowned housing estates are now at loggerheads over the government’s policy of ‘right of first refusal’, which stipulates that they sell or transfer their property to it first before considering anyone else.

The government has also embarked on the demolition of structures in its housing estates that are marked as unauthorised buildings.

The government, in a flyer by the Lagos State Building Investment Company (LBIC), distributed to all allotees, specifically told owners and occupiers of flats and bungalows in is estates that the LBIC “will begin to exercise its rights of first refusal as contained in its extant letters of allocation/letter of change of ownership” of such properties.

The decision of the LBC is coming on the heels of the demolition of shops and business premises within the 16 government estates in Lagos, a situation which has led to the disruption of economic and social activities within the various estates.

At a meeting with the residents of Abesan Housing Estate, with over 6,000 occupiers, the Managing Director of the LBIC, Ms. Folashade Folivi made it clear to the people that it was only after the LBIC had refused to buy-back such properties at a price that would be determined by the company that the owners could offer such property to others.

The LBIC managing director stated that “any person whose title or interest aforesaid is derived from LBIC and who intends to sell a flat/bungalow should kindly obtain the requisite ‘Intent to Transfer Ownership Form’ at our legal department.”

The decision, according to many residents of the various estates, has become a double jeopardy for most of them who want to sell their property and move out of the estates as their means of livelihood have been destroyed, following the demolition exercises carried out within the various estates.

The residents association at Abesan Housing Estate, during a stakeholders meeting with Folivi, pleaded that in view of the vastness and extent of the estate, the demolition exercise would affect over 60,000 people resident in the estate with over 40,000 of them rendered jobless.

They wondered why the LBIC would suddenly resort to demolition of the shops and business premises when the company had earlier demanded for the payment of permits to operate such structures within the estate.

The association in its address to Folivi, read by its president, Pastor Kehinde Ogundimu cried that since the exercise started, there had been an increase in stealing and robbery activities in the estate.

The people cried that since the exercise began, a number of residents have died due to shock and the untold hardship that was occasioned by the demolition.

Besides, they stated that “with the total demolition, LBIC will lose over N25 million annually as revenue that could have been generated from the structures as ground rent,” while the Ikeja Power Distribution Company would lose over N30 million within the same period.

They therefore pleaded that the decision on the demolition exercise should be critically looked into as, according to them, cases of rape and anti-social activities have become rampant as the youth and jobless have resorted to thuggery and hooliganism.

They cried that the “total demolition will not be fair to all parties concerned and this will not be beneficial to all concerned. Also, it will not bring better relationships between the residents and the LBIC.”

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