Hundreds lose homes, shops as FCT clears settlements | Dailytrust

Hundreds lose homes, shops as FCT clears settlements

  Government officials demolished structures at Utako village on Wednesday
Government officials demolished structures at Utako village on Wednesday

After spending 15 years in Utako Village, the house that Abdullahi Salisu stayed in with five of his brothers was pulled down by officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) on Wednesday.

Salisu lamented that, “We do not know where to go from here.

“We don’t know where to sleep.

Anguish as FCDA demolishes shanties in Utako Village

Residents lament as FCDA demolishes inner-city shanties

“Some of our goods have been destroyed.”

He said his livelihood was built around his demolished house as, “I feed my family here.

“I earn a living here.

“I make my living from this Utako Village.

When government officials “sanitise” the Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX) to make way for road construction and the beautification of the city, the Vice Chairman of the Cattle Dealers Association at Apo Roundabout, Haruna Saidu, said livestock traders were forced to leave the market at the Apo Roundabout after staying there for 18 years.

Saidu said they had relocated to Waru, about 27 kilometres away “but market no dey for here.

“We just dey manage,” adding that some members of the association had relocated to their states of origin, and further said, “We are still meeting the government on getting a better place for us.”

A battery charger, Olawale Tijjani, and a fashion designer, Amos Tsoto, were among business owners that lost their rented shops and means of livelihoods when the bulldozers of the government came down on all the structures at Apo NEPA.

Hundreds of residents and businesses have been affected by the renewed effort of the government to clear illegal settlements in the territory.

The demolitions, which have not ended, according to the Director of Development Control of the FCDA, Muktar Galadima, is among other reasons to correct all infractions and abuses of the Abuja Master Plan.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown was eased, the government has demolished structures in Utako, Apo and Kyami districts, and business owners have been removed from road corridors in Apo, Gwarimpa and Katampe.

More than 65 structures were pulled down in Utako and 134 houses demolished at Apo NEPA with scores of people and business owners displaced.

 The remains of the demolished structures at Utako village set on fire

The remains of the demolished structures at Utako village set on fire

Galadima said Utako residents were sensitised before the exercise and that some of the affected people were allowed to do self-removal which some of them complied.

Galadima further said, “We have an understanding; they help us to go round the illegal structures or non-indigenous structures, particularly shanties, which have become more or less a security challenge, as well as environmental nuisance,” adding that the demolition was part of government’s comprehensive plan “to take over the village.”

The Village Head of Utako, Danjuma Daniel Dabyni, said, “I am here with the demolition notice.

“We cried to them that we have not yet been resettled, and they told us it was because of security that they were doing the demolition.

“We agreed and understood because of what is happening in our country.”

A resident, Naomi Adams, said, “Though I was not affected, it was painful seeing what used to be someone’s house burnt to ashes in this season.

“It was massive demolition and the woods and materials from the exercise were burnt in two places.

“I was sad and could only imagine the feelings of the affected people.

“This place is not conducive and for them to have decided to stay here despite the environmental and security threat should tell the government that all is not well with our housing plans, especially for the poorest of the poor people.

“There should be a better approach to removing people.

“This could foment crime and other vices.

“You do not demolish houses regardless of the condition and turn a blind eye to their plight.”

 Residents search for remnants of belongings after the exercise

Residents search for remnants of belongings after the exercise

An electrician removed from the mechanic workshops on the Gwarimpa road corridor, Lukman Alao, said things had not been easy for him since the exercise.

Alao said most of the mechanics and technicians had relocated to another place not far within Gwarimpa but that business had not been as it used to be because not everybody would want to drive to their present location.

Tijjani the battery charger said he paid rent to original inhabitants that owned the shop he used for his business before it was demolished and that he lost his business place of four years despite the assurance of his landlord that the house would not be demolished because it was not marked.

Also, some traders at the informal sector of the Apo Mechanic Village affected by the demolition have relocated to the Dubai International Market, Kaura District.

The construction of the 20-kilometre dual carriage Apo-Wasa Road was flagged off in 2017 on OSEX to be pulled up at the Apo-Karshi Road.

The two carriageways were awarded to different construction companies: M/S CGC (Nigeria) Limited for the left-hand-side carriageway of 15km and Gilmor (Nigeria) Limited for the right-hand-side carriageway measuring 5km.

The contract sums for both roads are N6.17bn and N2.45bn respectively.

A resident of Kpadna Village, Chuks Abel, said, “It is terrible because some of traders squat with their colleagues at a nearby building materials shopping plaza while some are on the road to Jahi.”

He said the government could have done better by allowing the traders to stay till the end of the pandemic considering the economic downturn in the country.

Daily Trust Saturday observed that there were officials of the FCT Parks and Recreation marking the empty spaces while a truck was seen dumping sand in the area.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Task Force Chairman, Ikharo Attah, while commenting on the demolition exercise at Utako Village, said people should avoid buying land from local chiefs.

Attah said, “The lesson everyone will take from this operation is the fact that if you are not given a place, do not buy land from local chiefs, if you look at what is happening here today, some houses are going while some houses are left.”

He said the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, was desirous of safeguarding the fidelity of the Abuja Master Plan.

Attah advised that, “Stay away from buying lands that are not approved by the FCTA.

“Do not put structures that are not approved by the development control department, if you do that the bulldozers and the caterpillars will come and bring down the structures.”

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