Anambra state taskforce on demolition of illegal buildings on Thursday commenced its operations in Okpoko, Ogbaru Council Area of Anambra State with the pulling down of a three-storey building, and shanties blocking waterways.
Governor Chukwuma Soludo had visited the Okpoko community, a major slum in the state on the 18th of March, during which he promised to transform the community.
TNC had reported in April this year, that over 200 buildings built on waterways were marked for demolition in Okpoko, in line with the government’s urban renewal initiative and the demolition today follows the expiration of more than two-month notice served to the owners.
TNC Correspondent in Anambra, who was at the scene of the demolition, reports that many inhabitants of the buildings have been rendered homeless as a result of the exercise, which is aimed at ridding the state of slum settlements and imminent flooding.
Speaking at the scene of the demolition, the Vice President General, Okpoko community, Mr Nwanze Francis, expressed support to Governor Soludo for embarking on the demolition exercise, saying it is in the interest of the people.
“I am not against the demolition because the governor met with us and explained the need to embark on this exercise.
“Soludo is the kind of governor we need in the state to turn around many anomalies.
“We are however not excluding the option that government may look on us with pity and decide to give us some sort of compensation,” he pleaded.
The story is not also different for some other residents of the area, Emmanuel Egbe and Ikechukwu Oko as they commended the state government for coming to their aid.
They however lamented that they were not given ample time to remove their property and relocate.
“We have no problem with the demolition ad we believe it is for the best.
“The diseases we suffer here and the stench coming from the blocked drains and refuse heaps is nauseating and surprisingly, we have lived with this for all these years.
“Now that we have a governor with the political will to change things, we are hoping that this initiative will be completed as planned and this place opened up,” they said.
Earlier, the Chairman, Anambra state Town planning board, Barr Chike Maduekwe called for the support of the people, saying if the buildings are not pulled down, it will be impossible to access the Sakamori drainage for desilting.
According to him, the houses being pulled down are not up to 10 meters from the drainage, contrary to the 30 meter stipulation.
Maduekwe insisted that the government is not wicked but only trying to safeguard the lives and health of the people by its slum recovery initiative.
“Government has promised Anambra people a liveable and prosperous homeland.
“But you can’t have that when people have blocked waterways and drainages.
“When it rains consistently, most of these houses are flooded and we may even record deaths and so much loss.
“I have read on social media where people are talking about government being wicked but that’s not true,” he said.
The ANSPPB pleaded with Anambra people to understand that whatever the Soludo administration is doing is for their own safety and posterity will benefit from.
He called on developers to always endeavor to do what is right.
According to him, the present administration will leave no stone unturned in transforming the state.
Maduekwe further pleaded with those whose buildings have been marked to comply with government directive and move, warning that government must make good its directives.