By Izunna Okafor, Awka
Some residents and shop owners in Awka, Anambra State capital, were thrown into wailing and weeping moods, as Anambra State Government resumed demolition exercise in the area, barely four days after the last lap of the 2023 General Election.
Started on Wednesday, the demolition exercise, which is being carried out by the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), affects over one hundred shops, hotels, and residential apartments, located along the Oby Okoli Avenue, which stretches from UNIZIK Temporary Site Junction to across Okpuno village in Awka. ATM facilities, churches, and some other marked structures in the area were also not spared.
It was gathered that the structures were earlier marked for demolition by the ACTDA, which gave their owners seven (7) days to remove them (before January 25, 2023) or have them crushed to rubbles by the Authority.
However, given a public outcry and series of media publications on the planned demolition and the shortness of the notice, the Authority suspended the exercise and gave a ‘grace period’ of barely one month.
Although, some of the affected residents and shop the owners had already dismantled, relocated, or evacuated some of their facilities and wares ahead of the expiration of the first deadline to avoid incurring much loss.
To some others, the second extension was a sort of relief, as they were yet to move a single pin from their shops in preparation for the appointed day.
It was, however, surprising to many of the shop owners and the residents as the officials of the ACTDA were nowhere to be found to start the demolition (as expected) when the second deadline elapsed on February 24. It was understood, by many, to mean that the Authority had suspended the planned demolition because of General Election, which kicked off on February 25. The election period apparently tarried till March 18, when the last lap of it, the House of Assembly Election was held.
Be it as it may, the residents and the shop owners were taken by surprise when, barely four days after the elections, the officials of the Authority stormed the area with a heavy-duty caterpillar and started crushing down some structures in the area. This forced others whose structures were also marked to start hastening up and calling for assistance to evacuate their wares before the demolition could get to their turns. The rush helped minimize losses for some, while some were not fortunate enough to take out a single ware from their shops before it got to their shops.
Currently, over 80 shops, residential house and other structures have so far been demolished in the area, with many victims still struggling to rescue their trapped wares, while metal scrap dealers count it lucky as they feast on the metal scraps from the demolished structures.
Some of the victims of the demolition who spoke to this reporter, including Kingsley Umeh, Josephine Mbachu, and Judith Igwebuike described the demolition as unwarranted, unexpected and destabilizing, given the current economic realities in the country. Many of them said they just recently renewed or paid their rents and expressed worry that such ‘unfortunate‘ situation is befalling them in the first quarter of the year.
They also wondered what could be the government’s reason for the demolition, as their shops are not illegally sited, nor did they block the drainage channels or have any structural defects.
In his quest to find out the actual reason behind the demolition, this reporter, Izunna Okafor, approached to interview the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ACTDA, Mr. Ossy Onuko, after he visited the site to inspect the demolition.
His request for interview was, however, turned down by the ACTDA Boss, who said he doesn’t have any business with the media, and directed him to go and meet the Governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, for the interview.
“Please, please, I don’t have any business with the media; allow me to do my job, please. If you want interview, go and meet the Governor or the contractor,” he said, as he banged his car door and zoomed off.
This reporter, however, resiliently approached another top official of the ACTDA, who spoke to him on the condition of anonymity.
According to the official, the demolition exercise is being carried out to create more space for the dualization of the road.
“The government wants to make the road to be double lane, and that is why you see this massive destruction, to create more space for the road,” the source said.
This reporter, in his close monitoring, also observed that the ACTDA was partial in the demolition, as it spared/skipped some buildings and structures in the area that are along the same lines with the ones that were demolished.
A commercial toilet facility constructed by the ACTDA along the starting point of the demolition at the UNIZIK Junction was skipped untouched; while perimeter fences of some buildings belonging to some money bags in the area, such as the CEO of the Aroma Farm, and the Oby Okoli, were also skipped untouched, after other structures on the same lines with them were crushed down by the Authority.
You may be interested
‘Buhari’s was a total failure in eight years, history will judge him’ – Bode GeorgeWebby - May 28, 2023
Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Bode George, says the eight years of President Muhammadu…
We must make Nigeria work better – BuhariWebby - May 28, 2023
By Ismaila Chafe President Muhammadu Buhari says citizens must bring to bear the strength of individualism, the power of unity…
President Buhari’s farewell speechWebby - May 28, 2023
FAREWELL SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA My fellow Nigerian brothers, sisters and…
Leave a Comment