19th January, 2022
By Grace Alegba/Joan Odafe
Sen. Gbenga Ashafa, Managing Director, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), on Wednesday said the agency would reconsider its stand on the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in FESTAC Town and regularise buildings with fewer infractions.
Ashafa, at a meeting with stakeholders on the ongoing demolition at FESTAC Phase 2 in Lagos, said his administration listened to pleas of encroachers who ignorantly built illegally on government land so as to reduce their losses.
He said: “While we see it as an unacceptable excuse, we will go on to consider all professional and safety measures to salvage as much as we can without endangering lives.”
He assured that all houses to be considered must pass the required integrity checks to be carried out by FHA professionals.
Ashafa, represented by Mr. Chinonso Omoke, FHA Executive Director, Project Implementation, promised to uphold the Federal Government’s mandate of providing affordable and accessible housing for all Nigerians.
“Buildings on layouts, canals, roads would have to go. All the buildings must pass integrity tests, they would have to be certified by FHA standard,” Ashafa said.
However, a slide presentation on satellite imagery was made to show the severity of damages caused by the original FESTAC Town master plan.
The Heads of Engineering, Survey and Architecture Departments of FHA took turns to explain the dangers the illegal structures posed, including flooding, environmental degradation, and sanitation issues capable of causing epidemics.
They however promised to salvage as many structures as possible without compromising standards, noting that angles of some buildings may be chopped off while others may be demolished.
Mrs Francisca Michael-James, FHA Head of Town Planning, South-West Zone, while making a slide presentation, said encroachers did not adhere to construction standards.
She said the structures clogged the Right of Way, blocked roads and drainage channels thereby making it difficult for the FHA to decide realignments in the planned regularisation.
She said some allottees allocated since the 80s and 90s were not allowed access to their land by land grabbers popularly referred to as Omo Onile.
FHA southwest Zonal Manager, Mr. Akintola Olagbemiro, appealed to the stakeholders to cooperate with the staff who will carry out the regularisation exercise and ensure their safety during the process.
Mr Joe Igbokwe, Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Drainage Services, joined in the plea for mercy on encroachers.
He acknowledged that the encroachers did not follow due diligence but begged FHA “to temper justice with mercy”.
He said under an ideal situation, the roads and drainages were supposed to be constructed before houses, then people move in last, but in Lagos, the reverse is the case.
Mr Michael Mbanefo, who represented Stone Water Estate, FESTAC, joined representatives of various estates in attendance to beg FHA for forgiveness.
They promised to comply with all directives to ensure the regularisation of as many properties as possible.