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Lagos-Calabar highway: 750 houses for demolition as property owners allege poor compensation

The Minister of Works, David Umahi, has disclosed that 750 houses that are on the path of the Lagos-Calabal Coast Highway have been marked for demolition.

He revealed this during a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos on Thursday.

He said, “If we go by the new alignment, 490 houses would be demolished, also following the gazette alignment, 750 houses would be demolished.

“There is no change of alignment; we are following the gazetted alignment. There would, however, be realignment at Okun Ajah area of the state by 25 kilometres to avoid damaging submarine cables.”

However, landlords of affected property were displeased with the government compensation, claiming it did not match their investment.

Umahi further disclosed that President Bola Tinubu had been invited to flag off the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway.

He said, “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been invited to flag off the coastal highway on Sunday, May 26, 2024.”

According to the minister, the coastal highway would boost tourism.

“The new corridor is going to have befitting tourism centres and the land is going to be made available by the relevant department of government, and Nigerians would be opportune to leverage that.

“When external funding from outside comes, it is going to reduce our inflation and strengthen the naira. So, the partnership of Federal Government is 30 per cent commitment, and we have not exceeded that in terms of the local funding commitment of the Federal Government,” he explained.

The minister noted that the new coastal corridor was not going to be for the benefit of Lagos alone.

He added, “This is not just going to be in Lagos alone, but all through the 700 kilometres of the coastal highway. We tend to link this road from Sokoto to Badagry, and another spur that is going to link a road that runs from Enugu, Abakaliki, and Ogoja, down to Cameroon, and that is called the trans-Africa trade route. The Badagry route is also an African trade route linking us to other West African Countries.”

10 property owners were compensated during a question and answer session with the minister.

Meanwhile, some property owners and residents have expressed anger over the compensation paid to them by the government, describing it as small compared to their investment in the marked properties.

According to them, the compensation is grossly inadequate and there is a need for the government to review the payment.

The President of Total Energies Staff Cooperative Society and Total Energies Staff Club, Cajetan Onu, said the compensation paid by the government was insufficient compared to the investment made on the developed property.

He appealed, “As I speak now, we have a bulldozer on our fence and we started developing our clubhouse four years ago, and we just commissioned it this year. We are not against the project; what we are requesting is more time to recover the equipment we can recover.

“Our second request is on the evaluation that was done to be on the cost for the compensation. We feel it is grossly inadequate compared to how much investment we put into this property. We beg you to assist us to ensure that we get the right compensation for this property.”

The founder of Leisure Games, Olanrewaju Ojo, who got N1.3m compensation, told The PUNCH that the amount was what he could generate in a week.

He said, “This is ridiculous! What am I supposed to do with this? I will make this in a week.”

Another compensated property owner of businesses on the Good Beach, who pleaded anonymity, said the amount was 1/6 of what he submitted.

He said, “For me, the compensation I was given is about 1/6 of what we submitted. Obviously, it is not up to what we invested in this business.

“I am having mixed feelings now and I do not know what to do. I do not know if I should accept or reject this.”

Another property owner, Paul Osemele, claimed that the compensation was not at a market rate.

He lamented, “Nobody is okay with the compensation; the government is given pantries, with the increase in cement.

“The government is not paying according to market value. In my house, I had about 20 tenants, and I have lost revenue since the whole thing started, as they have all moved out.”

Umahi responded that the government was fair on the issue of compensation.

He asserted, “On the issue of compensation, the government is impartial. What we have done for others is what we have done for this place as well.”

Umahi had earlier announced  N2.75bn in compensation to property owners affected by the demolition necessary for the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway spanning from channel 0 to channel 3.

He revealed this information during a stakeholders meeting held in Lagos State on Wednesday.

He said, “To show sympathy for people who voted for Mr President, we would do everything possible to pay the human face compensation.

“Today, we are paying over N2bn in compensation just from channel 0 to channel 3.”

Umahi noted that the compensation being done was a flag-off for 10 people, directing that the rest of those to be compensated should go to the Secretariat of the Compensation Committee for payment.

He added, “All tenants within the Landmark premises, today, have all been shortlisted and they will get the alerts by 2:00 pm.

The first phase of the compensation flag-off included 10 property owners, which were: Olaotan Olamuyiwa of Checkmate; Kemi Osinibi of Landmark Kids Club by Maxtivity; Mide Adegbite, Peter Oladipupo of FX Lounge; Bukola Oloko, Abiodun Oguntunde of Xchange Lagos; Dapo Oniru of Moist Beach; Mustapha Olatunji of G12 Beach; Dr Bashir Oshodi, and Bestrock.

The Federal Controller of Works for Lagos State, Olukorede Kesha, noted that the aforementioned property owners were the first 10 to be compensated, adding that subsequently, other compensations would ensue.

In March, the Federal Government started constructing the 700-kilometer Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, designed to extend through 9 states with two spurs leading to the Northern States.

Umahi revealed that the road would be built using concrete pavement.

In the following month, the government established a committee tasked with the responsibilities of reviewing, assessing and compensating landowners affected by the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Expressway.

Umahi said that the committee, comprising members drawn from the ministry, Lagos State, affected communities, and other stakeholders, had primary responsibilities that included verifying the eligibility of claimants, assessing the dimensions of affected properties, and determining the appropriate compensation amounts.

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