Demolition: Property owners on Lagos-Calabar road to get N2.75b compensation

Owners of properties demolished to give the right of way to the Lagos-Calabar Coaster Highway are to get N2.75 billion compensation from the Federal Government, Works Minister Dave Umahi said yesterday.

The minister, who unveiled the new design routes for the 700 kilometre project in Lagos, chided former Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi for ‘inciting’ the people of the Southeast against the government over the project.

He explained how the affected property owners would be compensated, warning that the former Anambra State governor would not be in a position to fight for the ill-informed people he was inciting after getting them into trouble.

The first batch of property owners affected by the construction got their compensation at the ceremony organised by the Federal Ministry of Works.

The highway is designed to connect Lagos to Cross River, passing through the coastal states of Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, before culminating in Cross River.

But, controversy has trailed the project, following the demolition of Landmark Beach Resort, valued at $200 million, to create a right of way for the project which is estimated to cost the federal government N15 trillion.

After the demolition, Paul Onwuanibe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Landmark, complained that about 70 percent of the beach was destroyed by government’s bulldozer. He describing the demolition as insensitive.

Obi criticised the Federal Government for going ahead with the project, saying that it is in defiance of public outcry.

He said the Federal Government had embarked on a job-losing project at a time of rampant unemployment.

Discontinue project

Obi said it was not too late to discontinue the project, saying that livelihoods had been wiped away, lifetime investments are wasted, and jobs are disappearing as a result of the demolition.

In a post on his X handle, he said: “The outcry against this project has been overwhelming due to the current situation in the country. However, reports as of yesterday indicate that demolition of businesses and residences in the designated right of way for the project has commenced from the Lagos end.

“The sight of this insensitive demolition is heart-wrenching. Livelihoods are being wiped away, lifetime investments are being wasted, and jobs are disappearing as bulldozers roar through. The homes of the elderly are being overturned by the power of bulldozers.

“This hasty flag-off defies the widespread outcry by the public, especially business and property owners directly affected by the project. Nobody knows the outcry that will accompany this project as it progresses towards poor rural landscapes.

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“Thousands of jobs are about to be lost, with investments above $200 million at risk. Over 100,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector face imminent extinction, along with 80 small businesses and their 4000 mostly youth employees.”

Obi got it wrong, says Umahi

But, Umahi insisted there was no inhumanity meted to Landmark, adding that the matter should be buried because the organisation was carried along.

He said Obi delights in condemning people, thereby bringing judgment upon himself.

Umahi said: “It brings to some of the comments made by my brother, His Excellency, Mr Peter Obi. I am not supposed to comment about it because some people have already done the work. And I know what Arise Television brought out, courtesy of Channels Television. They were bringing similar scenarios when His Excellency, Peter Obi, was the governor. He made a statement, saying: ”Any infrastructure that stands in the way of the road must go. And there would be no compensation paid.” That’s what he said.

“But look at me, by the human face of the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’ administration, we are even paying for people who are illegally staying on the coastal line, and don’t have valid infrastructure and valid documents. That is mercy. You know some people darken counsel without knowledge. You know there’s the devil in the details.

“When you condemn people, you bring judgment upon yourself. And that is what he (Obi) has done. And I think he’s inciting some of the Southeast people that are not well informed. He is inciting them. And gets them into trouble. And he doesn’t go to fight for them. Wisdom is a defence. And I want our people to have wisdom because I am involved.

Unveiling the new road design, Umahi said: “It’s my pleasure to unveil the new design route, and I wish to flag off the compensation from chainage zero to chainage three in a total sum of N2.75 billion. That is very ambitious.

“It’s my pleasure to invite the Director of Design and the Controller to call the people and give them the symbolic amount agreed and to assure that before 1p.m. tomorrow, you will all get your alert as agreed.

“It will be difficult to show you all that we have done here to protect the claimants so that you don’t go to their houses, this one is private to us.

But the smaller ones, we can do that symbolically, but no cash is paid.”

The minister also announced that all tenants affected by the demolition at Landmark would receive compensation.

He said: ”All tenants within the Landmark premises have been shortlisted for payments by 2 p.m. today. That closes the politics of Landmark.”

The Chairman, Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway Compensation Committee, Mrs Korede Keisha, who presented cheques to beneficiaries, corroborated what Umahi said.

Lagos community insists on 2006 design

The Okun-Ajah community in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State urged the Federal Government to adopt the 2006 coastal road plan designed by the state government.

The community pleaded with President Bola Tinubu to prevail on the Minister of Works to stick to the previous plan.

The head of the community, Chief Saheed Ologunro, made the call at the compensation ceremony.

He explained that the new alignment in the plan would affect his people who have been residing there for 200 years.

Ologunro said: “As at 2006 when we moved in there, the routes for the coastal road was already demarcated.

“There is a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) that covers where most of the landlords in the Okun-Ajah built their structure.”

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