BCPG: Building Demolition at Mende Necessary for Flood Control

Bennett Oghifo 

Perennial flooding in the low-lying areas within Kosofe part of Lagos State has been a major source of concern to construction professionals living or working in that axis of Lagos state. 

In a voluntary exercise, many of these professionals, under the aegis of Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Kosofe Cell, have been seeking environmental improvement. 

According to a statement by the Co-ordinator, BCPG Kosofe Cell, QS Soji Adeniji, and the Secretary, Engr. Fatai Balogun, 
“Encroachment into the established right of way along Odo – Iyalaro (river) technically termed System One Channel, has been identified as one of the prominent causes of perennial flooding being experienced in the area. 

“The river channel that runs from Mende to Medina, Soluyi and down to Ogudu – Oworonshoki end, where it discharges water into the Lagoon, has instituted the recurring nightmares in the psyche of residents due to attacks from overflowing river, protesting the reduction in its natural course by buildings.

“The ongoing demolition of buildings that obstruct the watercourse is a necessity that should bring relief to residents during the fast approaching rainy season. 

“Hence, the demolition exercise embarked upon by the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources is an inevitable overall life and property saving operation, singling out the willpower of the current leadership of the ministry for commendations.

Naturally, as a professional organisation that understands the cost of building construction, the value of an existing building, and the cost implications of building deconstruction or demolition, the importance of preventive measures cannot be overemphasised.

“Owners and occupants of demolished buildings are bound to suffer economic losses and social setbacks compounded by psychological and possible health challenges. 

“The sympathy of the world is usually on the side of the weak. Hence, government demolition action might, ironically, elicit sympathetic sentiments from the public, misinterpreting the government action as overbearing. 

“The consequence of building demolition prior to an election is quite understood by political office holders. 

In view of the above identified consequences of belated demolition action, the philosophy of BCPG, which is prevention, should be put into consideration in government principle and conduct.

“When illegal building construction is aborted at the foundation level, it hardly generates any of the above identified consequences.

“To complement the essence of this belated demolition, the government should cast its searchlight on its staff and past political office holders and dispense immediate justice on those of them whose compromise resulted in the current belated wanton destruction of property along System One Channel at Mende. 

Where those that have retired are prosecuted for negligence, dereliction of duty, or other offences committed while in service, culture of loyalty to public interest will be encouraged. 

Unrepentant, stubborn developers who are fond of flouting building regulations and seducing government officials towards compromise should be made accountable. “Such a deliberate offence, impunity deserves no sympathy. 

Moreover, construction professionals that took part in the construction of the illegal buildings that are being demolished should be identified and punished by the regulatory bodies.

“Search and authentication of land documents are very crucial before the commencement of construction.

“The current building demolition aimed at correcting past mistakes has, in an antithesis,  generated an allegation from developers that a government parastatal, Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) laid a substantial precedent, encroaching on the natural watercourse at Alapere (still in Kosofe) by sandfilling and situating housing estate in the swampy area beside the highway bridge.

“LSDPC would need to explain the rationale behind the project, supporting it with the Environmental Impact Analysis report that could allay the fears being expressed in the area. The adequacy of the estate drainage system to contain the large volume of water from China Town and its environs should be explained to satisfy curiosity. 

“Past errors cannot be left to haunt residents perpetually. The demolition of buildings in order to avert flooding is necessary and painfully irreversible. 

“In order to ameliorate the suffering of the innocent occupants of buildings earmarked for demolition, the government should give sufficient time of notice, ensure direct occupants rather than landlords only are informed. “Temporary accommodation or relief camps should be provided by the government for victims of building demolition. 

“At this juncture, it is pertinent to draw the attention of the government again to the Mende Cane Village that is located by the plains of Iya Alaro River under the Maryland – Ojota bridge. The unique craft of weaving canes to form hamper baskets, tables, chairs, beds, and other furniture designs is peculiar to Mende in the whole of Lagos State. 

“An appeal is hereby made to the Lagos State Government to relocate the Cane Village to a suitable land within Mende and Ojota axis. This craft that has been in existence for several years in our locality should not be allowed to go into extinction. It is a window for skills acquisition that can help attenuate youth unemployment. 

The rising need for accommodation and increasing value of property in urban areas have exacerbated sandfilling of river basins and lagoon shores in Kosofe area of Lagos State. Whilst data shows that 70 per cent of building collapse in Lagos State happened during the rainy season, this reclamation trend should be reconsidered within the purview of environmental impact and long-term sustainability of such actions.

“Efforts to mitigate flooding that could lead to building collapse in Kosofe environs are fully supported by BCPG Kosofe Cell.”

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