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Ekiti Demolition: So Far, So Good?
Assistant Editor, Sam Nwaoko, in this week’s Environment Watch, reports what has been done by the Ekiti State government since August when it demolished houses in Ado Ekiti amid hues and cries against its urban renewal and beautification project.
Since the demolition of illegal structures in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital began on August 1, 2011, many residents of the town have been on the lookout for what the state government is out to do with the space that has been gained, so far.
The exercise, which began with vigour, and simultaneously, at Atikankan and Iyin Road areas of the town, showed a lot of promise, but the exercise now seems to be taking longer for the results to manifest.
Not a few residents of Ado Ekiti metropolis saw the slum that Atikankan is as an obvious blight on any town, especially when the health implications of the structures on the water channels are considered. But since the demolition of structures in early August, work seems to have stalled in that neighbourhood. However, there has been renewed activity on Ikere Road where demolition has resumed to secure the setbacks.
The completion of part of the redesigning of the defunct Odu’a Textile Limited to Odu’a Enterprise Development Centre might have given verve to the beautification work at Iyin Road. According to the design of the former textile factory, a builders’ mart, which forms the first phase of the textile compound, would accommodate the traders in building materials that litter parts of Iyin Road. And the movement of the traders to the builders’ mart is still expected though work has resumed on the beautification of Iyin Road.
On the seeming delay in the commencement of work, chairman of the Urban Renewal Agency, Mr. Babatunde Fakoyede, an engineer, explained that “when we started demolishing, people came out begging as they didn’t believe we would start the demolition then.”
He added that “so, when we started the demolition, some people begged us saying ‘please, give us two weeks; we will remove our property ourselves; we will remove our goods.’ So, we had a total of about three weeks.”
Fakoyede also pointed out that after the demolition and bulldozing of parts of the roads, “we need to clear all the debris that was generated from what we have demolished.” He also said, “we need to level the place; we need to now start construction of walkways and green areas.”
According to him, following the transformation of Ado Ekiti from a local government headquarters to a state capital in October 1996, there was sudden influx of people because of the creation of the state and “because the people that were in old Ondo State then moved into Ado Ekiti, that became a problem for Ado Ekiti because you find out that the town could not cope with the influx of people, there was congestion and lack of accommodation.” He observed that “people started living wherever they found accommodation and houses were being built to accommodate the influx of people.”
His explanation included the contention that the rise in the number of people moving into Ado Ekiti led to the emergence of slums and with the lack of planning, there could be “infrastructure collapse because of the number of people using the few available but grossly insufficient facilities.” The agency boss said the state government “decided that there should be an urgent need to renew Ado Ekiti and other urban towns in Ekiti State, so that we can have planned development and everybody will now need to have a knowledge of where you are supposed to go or what you are supposed to do if you want to build a house and the standard that is required.”
But the people of the state are still wondering what the town would turn into at the end of the exercise, as the slow pace of work has set tongues wagging. The people also wonder why there would be so much destruction, “just because the government wants to plant flowers in Ado Ekiti and destroy the businesses of the citizenry.”
But the government has maintained that what it was doing was to clear six metres setbacks. “Nothing more than that. When we clear the six metres, we will have opportunities of having walkways for our pedestrians; we will now have green areas for the beautification of the town. What we are doing now is to clear these setbacks in all our major roads and then go ahead to plan it, have walkways for pedestrians.
So, what we are demolishing, as of today, is just the six metres setbacks from the main roads,” Fakorede maintained.
However, the latest allegation against the state government is that the clearing of setbacks, which has also led to the demolition of various properties along the Ikere Road, came suddenly.
Some of the owners of properties on the road claimed that they just saw the bulldozers, and that led to the resistance against the demolition by members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) when the demolition squad arrived at their secretariat. The claim was that the fence of the party secretariat was violating the six-metre barrier. But the government denied the claim, saying all the affected people had been given notices.
While the people await the outcome of the move on the Ekiti environment, the government has promised to improve on drainage and control erosion better.
“What we are going to do now as from this month is that we want to roll back malaria too. We want to appeal to the Ministry of Health that all drainages in the urban areas should be covered. That will minimise people’s tendency to dump refuse into drainages. When they are covered, they would be forced to go and put their refuse in the proper place,” the government said.
The plan also includes making “the road from Atikankan to Baptist Church Road-dual carriage street, passing through Egbeyemi market. That road that leads from Atikankan to Ilawe Road will join it with that of Ojumoshe. Then the one at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral will go and join the express that terminated at Ojumoshe.”
These are obviously lofty peaks for those who know Ado Ekiti, and time will tell of their attainment.Share