Amid allegations that it is targeting business outfits belonging to persons of South-East extraction, following their massive support for Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi; the Lagos State Government has offered explanations for its demolition exercise in the Alaba International Market which began on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the enforcement team of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Task Force embarked on the joint exercise.
The team which went round to re-seal several buildings that had been marked with previous multiple quit seal notices by LASBCA, said the measure was to prevent disaster.
They advised occupants on the need to move out of the structurally defective buildings which they said had become too dangerous for habitation.
A NAN correspondent on the delegation at the Market in Ojo Local Government Area observed that some of the buildings undergoing reconstruction were tilted.
Conducting journalists round, the enforcement director pointed out some storey buildings that were already sinking but being extended with additional floors.
The front row of shops of one of the sinking plazas was beautifully adorned with tiles and other materials while the back was tilted on marshy land.
A viral video, apparently of one of the plazas, gave a somewhat different narrative of the plight of traders, who were being forced to move.
Below is one of the viral video:
Some of the traders who spoke with journalists alleged that they had made some payments toward obtaining building approvals before embarking on renovations.
Responding to the situation, the General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Mr Gbolahan Oki, told journalists that the government was going to demolish it to save lives.
Oki said he usually panicked every time it rained because of the likelihood of any such buildings collapsing to cause mayhem.
He said the government valued the lives of residents which were more precious than the cost of any property.
According to him, the government was taking a proactive step and will demolish about 17 of the buildings which were not part of the 349 widely publicised for demolition.
Oki said the occupants had been served a series of notices since 2016 to carry out some necessary actions but they had been adamant and resorted to harassment of enforcement officials.
He added that the agency had to seek the help of the Lagos State Task Force because the occupants constantly used thugs to assault LASBCA officials whenever they embarked on enforcement.
The general manager said he had suddenly developed a phobia for rain because of the constant fear of defective buildings collapsing hence the proactive step to save lives.
“All those buildings are going to go down between now and Monday. LASBCA has given them enough notice.
“Everybody that lives in Lagos State, their lives are worth more than the cost of any building or the cost anybody is going to make on it .
“This is because when a building is going to come down, it is not going to give you a notice that I am coming down,” he said.
Oki ,however, said all the identified buildings were beyond redemption while listing attributes of distressed buildings to include those already tilting at very bad angles as well as those with different kinds of cracks.
He stated that the government had made the process of obtaining building approvals easy by establishing LASBCA district offices across all divisions.
He advised Lagos residents with valid land documents and building plan approvals to visit or write LASBCA offices for authorisation to commence construction.
Oki said this would ensure effective monitoring and supervision.