Chairman of Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Enforcement Unit, Bayo Suleiman
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Taskforce on Environment and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit) yesterday, shut Apapa Amusement Park in Lagos and also demolished about 44 illegal structures within the park.
The taskforce chairman, Mr. Bayo Sulaiman, led the operation to the park at about 8.30am, forcing shop owners therein to park out their wares from the premises.
The taskforce came with bulldozers, which was used to pull down about 44 buildings, including a building housing the Redeemed Christian Church of God located beside the Park.
The bulldozer commenced demolition of the structures at about 10 am bringing down every wall to pieces from its foundation.
A shop owner, simply identified as Ebuka, lamented that he had just parted with a one year rentage three days ago before the demolition.
According to him, “I was not told about this when I was paying to the person managing the park, I would have known what to do, now to get my money back will be difficult.”
Rita, a student who squats in a one room apartment within the park was a shadow of herself as she pondered on where to lay her head for the night. She blamed the managers of the Park for not informing about 5000 occupants of shops and offices in the area ahead of time on the planned demolition.
The state government said it decided to shut down the park and demolished the structures based on security reasons.
Speaking after the operation, Suleiman said the state government's intention was to return the park to its original plan, saying that government also got wind of information that those who were handed the Park to manage had converted part of the land as burial ground for their dead relatives.
He said there “is no way government would have come here to bury someone here, some of the properties have even been bought and they cut off some parts of the land and sell it off. There is also growing concerns of security. The government will not compromise its security policy.”
Managing Director of Parkway Ride and Services Limited, manager of the Apapa Amusement Park, Mrs. Mac Authur said the state government only gave them a 48-hour notice, saying there was no justification for the state government's action.
She explained that the Park was established in 1975, but that she only took charge of the Park in 1994 following the demise of the initial manager of the park.
“I Am interested in Fashola's government but am disappointed because I did not expect this kind of action from them. I was thinking they would call us and talk to us, when I got the notice that they want to demolish this place on Friday, we packed ourselves to Alausa to beg for more time to pack our belongings out, but they vehemently refused"
“At least, I expected them to give me time, how about my workers, I cannot sent them away without incentives,” she lamented.
Lawyer to Authur, Mr. Frank Eke said the management of the park would go to court to seek redress against the government.