Not Again: Massive Protest As NRC Pulls Down Igbo’s Structures Over Lagos-Ibadan Rail Tracks

Protests have trailed the demolition of
structures allegedly standing on the right
of way of the Nigeria Railway
Corporation (NRC) in many parts of
Lagos State.

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The NRC had on Friday commenced the
demolition ahead of the commencement
of the 155-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan
standard gauge train project, which was
recently launched by the vice president,
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet
Okhiria, had at the weekend told
newsmen that bulldozers would clear all
“illegal” structures on the railway line,
pointing out that property owners with
valid documents would be compensated.
He also said owners of the affected
structures had been duly notified to pack
their belongings.

Shortly after Okhiria made his intention
known, the corporation swung into
action clearing all structures blocking the
rail line beginning from Yaba up to
Surulere, Mushin, Oshodi, Ikeja, Iju-
Ishaga, Agbado, among others.
As many Nigerians were celebrating
Easter and the holidays, many structures
were being pulled down on the rail line
while several houses are currently
marked for demolition with residents
currently living in fear and anxiety.

No fewer than five churches, three
mosques and two preparatory schools
were reduced to rubbles in the
demolition carried out by the NRC to
clear the rail track for the Federal
Government Railway Modernisation
Project.

The demolition started around 8a.m. on
Friday when many of the traders were
yet to open for business. The operation
was led by the chairman of NRC
Committee for Removal of Illegal
Structures, Mr. Anthony Ochuko
Onyokoko. More than 2,000 shanties were
demolished in the operation.
Some of the affected occupants and
traders could not be consoled as they
counted their losses. Mrs. Kabirat
Adeniji, 48, who operated a wholesale
liquor store rolled on the floor as her
three shops were brought down. She said
she had recently stocked her shops with
goods worth N500,000.
Mrs. Adeniji, who said she rented the
three shops 18 years ago, said:

“These
people (NRC officials) have finished me.
There is nothing my children and I will
eat again. As you can see, my source of
livelihood has just been destroyed by the
Railway Corporation. I don’t know where
to start again. As I am talking to you, I
don’t have anything again.”

However, residents and landlords are
crying foul over the demolition, saying
they were caught unawares as they were
not adequately notified neither was any
compensation paid to them.

Briefing newsmen yesterday, landlords
and residents of Railway line in Mushin,
off Olateju street, said the notice given to
them was very short. Besides, there was
no form of compensation paid to them,
they claim.

Warning the Federal Government to
thread softly with the demolition,
spokesman of the Landlords’ Association,
Mr. Daniel O. Daniels, said they at first
thought the demolition was a rumour
until the NRC brought cranes to their
area.
“We were caught unawares because the
notice that we were given was too short.
Nobody was prepared for it and so far no
compensation has been made.

Everything
was just like a rumour. Then it came to
pass and we were told that this is the
first batch, that they are still coming for
the second batch, which would affect the
real houses in this area.

“The notice we were given is just too
short. They came on Thursday and they
started demolition on Friday, less than 24
hours,” he added.Chief Imam of Sadiku
Oloro Central Mosque, already marked
for demolition, said most of the
landlords in the area are widows and
pensioners who are already living from
hand to mouth. He said pulling down
their property would worsen their
precarious situation.

Also speaking, Alhaji Abdullateef
Adegboyega said he has been living in
the area for the past 50 years. He pleaded
with the NRC to settle them before
embarking on any demolition. He said his
building marked for demolition has valid
documents.

Courtesy: News Agency

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