THE Lagos State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources issued a seven-day violation notice to owners of buildings inside the seven-metre setback on Orchid Road, Agungi, Ajiran, Conservation Road, Osapa, and all along the Ikota River on Sunday.
According to a statement released yesterday by the Director (Public Affairs), Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Kunle Adeshina, Wahab made the declaration alongside Special Adviser Environment, Olakunle Rotimi-Akodu, following an extensive inspection tour that lasted until dusk to System 156 and 157 Channel along Ikota River.
The purpose of the inspection tour was to assess the level of compliance among property owners whose buildings and fences fell within the allowed seven-metre setback on both sides of the channel and who had been given the option of voluntary compliance.
Wahab charged Lagosians to respect the State Drainage Master Plan to avoid properties demolition asserting that there was no going back on the decision of the state to enforce the law and reclaim Drainage setbacks following the expiration of the notices issued.
Wahab stated that the Nigerian Conservation Foundation had earlier written a petition complaining about several distortions saying that there had been a lot of distortion on their roads.
The distortion affected the natural habitat of animals in the foundation as well as on Orchid road where a lot of damage had been done to the drainage channel designed to take storm water from the communities into the Lagoon.
He noted that the had been humane in its approach to reclaim the drainage right of way hence the review of the setback alignment from the original seven metres to six metres after a meeting with property owners in order to reduce the number of structures to be affected.
“We cannot keep lampooning Government for flooding when developers, builders and residents themselves are the main cause of flooding; we shall continue to enforce because that is why laws are made. Without law and order, there cannot be development, this level of bad behaviour must stop, he said”.
The Commissioner and his team also visited Oral Estate II along system 156 Igbo Efon where the Primary Channel was found to have been totally blocked by illegal structures without drainage aprovals.
He also visited Agungi, Ajiran and Osapa where notices had earlier been served, saying that final decisions will be undertaken having seen the level of encroachment as regards the setbacks of Primary Channel and Secondary Collectors in the areas.
He explained that the System 156 Ikota river channel is originally 46 metres while property owners and residents on the corridor have reduced the size, adding that all those that have contravened and whose properties fell within the original meters of the channel setback on both sides have the next seven days to remove them as enforcement would commence immediately after expiration of the notices.
In the course of the tour, the Commissioner visited Chevron Drive, where he issued a stop work order to Gravitas company, owners of Grace Ville Island and Pocket Island owing to the fact that the construction company had sand filled part of Ikota River thereby reducing the size of the lagoon from the original 250 meters designed to accommodate free flow of water.
“The lagoon is a natural path , people have started reclamation to cover up the path and narrow it; you cannot narrow the path of water, if you do, water will naturally create another path and this is dangerous for everyone, he said”
The Commissioner also supervised the demolition of shanties on Thompson Avenue following petitions by residents that strange faces and ladies of easy virtues were always lining up the streets at night which is a security risk for the whole state and Ikoyi environ especially.
“At 6am this morning we came in and what we saw was unimaginable and we had to pull down these illegal structures, evacuate, make some arrest and charged them to court; by tomorrow we will have full possession of the land, he said.
He urged all illegal squatters to relocate outrightly as the government is determined to rid the state of shanties or any environmental infractions that dot the landscape irrespective of the location adding that the present administration will not allow individuals who have no business in the state become environmental nuisance and security risk in the state.
He urged developers, builders and property owners to effectively pursue approvals for their building from Ministry of Physical Planning and Ministry of the Environment for Drainage approvals and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before embarking on building projects to avoid demolition.
The Special Adviser on Environment noted that Lagos despite its peculiarities as a coastal state with low-lying terrains and a high population density among others has not been has remained afloat because of various measures put in place by the government.
He explained that the state government embarked on a comprehensive all year round cleaning and maintenance dredging of drainage channels/canals and construct new drainages where and when necessary to find a lasting solution to flooding across the state.
He called for the full participation of citizens in governance as well as full participation by the communities and governmental bodies at all levels to achieve great improvements in the environmental sanitation, maintenance and sustainable environment.