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FESTAC: FHA to sustain demolition exercise, relocate squatters — Ashafa

“Though painful but inevitable, we will not fold our hands and cheer the distortion of our master plan under any guise, no matter how highly placed the defaulter might be.

By Grace Alegba/Joan Odafe

Sen. Gbenga Ashafa, Managing Director, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), on Friday said the demolition of substandard and illegal construction across FESTAC Town in Lagos would continue.

He said that some squatters would be relocated.

Ashafa, represented by Mr Chinonso Omoke, FHA Executive Director, Project Implementation during a meeting with stakeholders at FHA Zonal office, Lagos, said that the ongoing restoration of estates would soon become a nationwide affair.

He reeled out successes recorded so far in the ongoing clean up and restoration of the FESTAC master plan, to return the estate to its lost glory.

Ashafa said that the recent demolition around the 9th Avenue in Festac Town did not target any group.

He said that encroachers defied all warnings and notices against illegal construction, thereby, undermining FHA’s authority.

“Though painful but inevitable, we will not fold our hands and cheer the distortion of our master plan under any guise, no matter how highly placed the defaulter might be.

“Individuals decided to obstruct the major access to the 9th Avenue, by directly constructing on the road.

“We have started this sustained exercise of clearing them and negotiations on them are foreclosed.

“We have also observed that some other buildings in that part of FESTAC are already structurally challenged, so much that in places piling was required, ordinary raft foundations were put in place,” he said.

The Managing Director warned that the agency would adopt all possible measures to avert building collapse and forestall any loss of life in FESTAC Town.

He said management was touched by several appeals from owners of contravening buildings and had decided to relocate those with genuine cases.

“Management may have to consider alternative settlement, but must not compromise professional standards.

“Such structures must pass integrity tests; where original allottees’ land have been taken, compensation must be fully paid, re-survey carried out, penalties paid, before we can re-integrate them into our estate,” he said.

Ashafa warned that the ongoing restoration would soon be extended beyond 9th Avenue to all parts of FESTAC Town and FHA estates in Lagos and across the nation.

“We appeal to all illegal developers in all our estates to stop forthwith.

“For all those disobeying our stop work notices, we advice them to desist and save themselves the agony of losing so much” he said.

Ashafa advised those acquiring land in any FHA estate to visit its Zonal offices in the six geo-political zones for necessary guidance and information.

He said that FHA does not appoint third party agents.

The President, FESTAC Town Residents Association (FTRA), Mr Shola Fakorede, said the demolition exercise was in the interest of the citizenry.

According to him, those who have encroached on the right of way are deterring development.

He said that the planned road construction from 4th Avenue to 9th Avenue would link FESTAC to Abule-Ado, while reducing congestion on Badagry Expressway.

The Area E Commander, ACP Afegbai Igbafe, cautioned the FHA allotees against indulging the land grabbers in their requests, as the land belongs to the government.

The FHA allotees in attendance took turns to praise the agency for finally adopting measures to protect them from harassment and extortion by land grabbers.

Mr Anthony Okeke, who came with his documents from the FHA, said even after signing an undertaking to allow him continue developing his land, the land grabbers manhadled and chased him away.

He said that they put charms to deter him from accessing the land.

Another allotee, Dr John Daniel, who acquired 5,000 sq.m from the FHA in 2006, said he went with some workers to erect a fence but was chased away while their work tools were seized.

A lawyer, Mr Richard Okwudili, who helped in purchasing some land, spoke on behalf of the land owners, pleading for forgiveness.

He said that the wrong purchases were made based on a misleading newspaper advertisement.

One the owners of a demolished property, Mr Michael Mbanefo, speaking on behalf of others, narated their ordeal and final loss.

He appealed to FHA to regularise as many properties as possible to salvage the bad situation.