Communities in Lagos demand an immediate return to the original plan as a 700 km coastal road is rerouted through their land

Apr 23, 2024 | Politics | 0 comments

The Nigerian Government has initiated the construction of a 700km Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, which is set to pass through several communities, potentially leading to demolitions. The residents of Iwerekun, Solu-Orumija, Awofin, and Odusina villages in Lagos State have expressed concerns over the proposed coastal road that will traverse their land.

The Lagos State Government had disclosed its intention to start removing illegal building extensions and attachments across the state.

In a joint statement signed and issued by the Baales (traditional leaders) of Iwerekun, Solu Orumija, Awofin, and Odusina villages on Sunday, they urged the Government to construct the road project by implementing the old plan, which will not encroach onto their land. Residents of the communities, including their traditional leaders, protested against the planned encroachment over the weekend, chanting slogans and displaying placards.

The statement reads: “We cry out today as people under an emergency situation. We, the inhabitants of the following coastal villages; Iwerekun, Awofin, Odusina, and Solu Orumija, are currently facing extinction of our approved village excisions by the whimsical realignment of the proposed coastal road site.”

“We are overjoyed that, at last, we are witnessing the commencement of the coastal road construction which was long anticipated. However, we are saddened by the sudden realignment of the Right of Way (RoW) upon the commencement of the road construction.”

“We have maintained the old site lying in the swamp behind our villages untouched for over two decades since it was marked, but we are shocked at the sudden change of the road path which is now directly on the village.”

“While we do not have a problem if the road would expand either way to claim some added portion to the old site as known in order to accommodate rail track or other transportation facilities, it is however not the case as a new 100 meters site is suddenly marked out in the villages differently from the old site as known.”

“Please note that after observing the required setback from the shoreline, the village is only about 150 meters left in entire width. Within the 150 meters, there is another setback from both the community road at the front and the setback for the coastal road behind, which makes the useful land in the village to be about only 100 meters. Therefore, the 100 meters RoW marked out in the village will consequently wipe out these four villages.”

“Aside from the new 100 meters marking into the village, there is also about 72 meters gap skipped before marking out the new site, which makes the entire land claimed from the village run into about 270 meters if you combine the old and new landmass marked in respect of coastal road.”

The residents posed a few questions, asking: “What purpose will the old site now serve as it is no longer the site to be used for the Coastal Road? Are villagers now allowed to move back into the old site since the Government is taking a new one for the Coastal Road?”

The communities noted that the Government had been silent on “this particular question and it makes the sudden realignment move entirely suspicious.”

The villagers also asked: “Why was there no consultation with the people ahead of the new road design to allow for their inputs to accommodate the new redesign without wiping out our villages?

“We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Honorable Minister for Works, Mr. Dave Umahi as well as all well-meaning Nigerians to rise to our plight as we are facing an emergency situation. Simply yield to our cry and take the simplest solution of reverting to the old design of land still preserved in the swamp undisturbed.”

The announcement of the commencement of the 700km coastal road from Lagos to Calabar has been surrounded by controversy. Many Nigerians face the risk of being homeless following the threat of their properties being imminently destroyed for the sake of the project.

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