The Lagos State Government has insisted that it would not be selective in its enforcement and application of the law to residents, but ensure justice and fairness to all in ensuring healthy environment in the state.
The State Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, made the exertion, on Saturday, after an on-the-spot assessment alongside state officials to the Lekki 2 Ikota Drainage channel corridors where structures built on the drainage channels were being demolished.
Wahab who was besieged by pleading occupants and owners of the fully built structures constructed on the drainage setbacks and already marked for demolition, said stopping the demolition exercise at this point would amount to double standard.
The Commissioner added the demolished block of duplexes were on the same drainage setback alignment as the ones yet to be removed and that the State is irrevocably committed to reclaiming its drainage setback and restore the masterplan.
Wahab, led the team that included the Permanent Secretaries, Office of Drainage Services, Engr Olalekan Shodeinde and Environmental Services, Gaji Omobolaji, respectively to Osapa London and major housing estates in Ikota, Lekki County Estate and Victoria Garden City Estate.
The Commissioner said it is sad that the State Government had to take the very difficult decision to pull down the fully built-up structures to reclaim the drainage setback for the free flow of stormwater in the area.
He stressed that the owners of the structures demolished in Ikota were aware that they have contravened and have had different engagements with the Ministry from 2020 when most of the structures were at foundation levels and several notices served.
“At ikota, the level of encroachments is just unimaginable, people have built on the canal path and we resolved that these nuisances cannot be allowed to continue. It just had to stop,” he said.
Wahab said it was necessary to visit the Ikota site once again and personally meet the owners of the structures yet to go down of the need to vacate the building before the demolition exercise moves to their end because no amount of entreaties would stop the exercise.
“We have gone round and we concluded that all houses on the canal path and on those on the canal itself must be removed and the path recreated to discharge into Ikota river,” he said.
The Commissioner also visited Victoria Garden City (VGC) in Lekki where some home owners extended their approved plot beyond the five metres buffer Zone of VGC, said that the extention will be pulled down to allow water to flow freely into the Lagoon.
“We cannot be brazen in our illegality and be brazen in our non challant attitude to the environment, it has to end, illegality cannot beget legality” Wahab, said.
He said Government had hitherto toed the line of advocacy but the people have refused to change hence the reasons why enforcement action have to be taken to make corrections where necessary.
Wahab said homeowners should ensure that they seek and obtain drainage approval alongside other approvals before embarking on their building projects to avert such a situation.
“These enforcement will be a continuous exercise, people cannot blame government for what they caused by their actions, whatever negative thing you do to the environment will come to haunt you eventually,” he said.
Speaking on the closure and reopening of some major markets in the state, Tokunbo Wahab said that the markets were closed for running foul of the provision of the State Sanitation laws.
He said for any market upon closure, they were handed a checklist to be fulfilled and once these checklist are met, the market will be reopened.
“You need to see the unsightly state and scene in the markets before closure and we cannot allow our people to trade food commodities and other items in a dirty and filthy environment,” Wahab said.
He said Government is also undertaking a safety audit in the markets through the Safety Commission to ensure safety of lives of traders and patrons in market spaces.