Residents of Otto-Ilogbo and Otumara communities in Lagos Mainland have expressed concern over the impending demolition of structures in the slum following a move by the state government to develop the neighbourhood.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, had recently disclosed the plan by the government to regenerate Otto and Otumara slum communities in line with the state’s development agenda.
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Salako explained that the move would culminate in the creation of a new micro-city with better urban aesthetics and vibrancy in Otto and Otumara. “The creation of a micro-city in those locations will complement the proposed revamping of the National Arts Theatre by the federal government, through the CBN-led Committee of Bankers,” he said.
In executing the plan, residents of the area are expressing fear that many houses may have to give way. They also claimed that they were not carried along in the regeneration plan and as such were afraid that their houses may be demolished.
A resident, community coordinator and rights activist, Musbau Agbodemu, told Eko Trust that the people were not against the development of the area but that such regenerative plan must be people-oriented.
According to him, the regenerative plan came to the community members as a surprise and was generating panic among the people.
He appealed to the state government to recognise and carry the community along to avoid public outcry by rendering over one million residents homeless, stressing that they have seven Community Development Associations (CDAs) duly registered under the state Ministry of Rural Development.
A non-profit organisation working to infuse human rights into social and economic governance processes in Nigeria, Spaces for Change, in a letter written on behalf of the communities to the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development requested for collaboration on the planned regeneration.
Spaces for Change, which is the legal representative of the residents, described the regeneration plan as laudable and timely but noted that the target communities, including Otumara and Otto-Ilogbo, fear that gentrification, demolition and displacement are usually occasioned by that kind of development.