Demolition of illegal structures along Onna, Eket among other roads under construction in Akwa Ibom state have been ongoing even as there have been fierce protest in the area by those whose buildings were affected.
It would be recalled that the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had warned indigenes of the affected areas in different public fora, to desist from constructing structures of any kind after the initial survey was carried out on the road as such structures won’t be paid for, when demolished.
Also, the state commissioner for works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang, whose ministry is directly in charge of the road construction projects in the state; in a chat with newsman had maintained that payment of compensation on the genuine structures was advanced stage even as structures not surveyed would be demolished without pay.
This reporter who visited some of the areas in perspective observed that there were hundreds of newly constructed structures along the roads side especially in Onna LGA; where the Governor hails from, ranging from; shops, residential buildings including story buildings and tomb stones.
The state ministry of Works during the week had sent bulldozers, which carried out reckless demolition on the structures irrespective of it values amid yearlings and cries by the owners.
The commissioner who himself was at the site to witness the demolition described as the worst level of irresponsibility for any individual to spend huge amount of money to construct such structures on the marked roads despite repeated warnings by Government.
Our reporter reports that since the commencement of the demolition exercise, there have been series of protests from different groups from the affected areas; especially; Eket remodeling region, Eket/Ibeno road, Onna road among other areas.
Just last week, some traders along Marina Road, Eket, numbering over 100, led a protest, demanded that they be paid compensation as their business premises was not illegal and has been earmarked for compensation.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as “We have not been paid compensation as promised”, “Governor Udom, we voted for you, please help us”, “Our means of livelihood are destroyed” and “show us were to relocate” among others.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Obong Mkparawa of Ekpene Village, Stanley Udoagha said sometime last year, a team of Surveyors and inspectors from Uyo came to Eket and distinguished between illegal structures and those earmarked for compensation but that properties meant for compensation were destroyed alongside illegal structures.
“We are not against, development but what we are saying is that the State Government should pay compensation to those entitled to it” he said.
Our correspondent reports that the task forced team that came from the Local Government to demolish structures was chased away by the angry traders.
Some, who also spoke to our correspondent on individual capacity, lamented that fact that monies paid as compensation was not commensurate to the value of their structures.
A land lord in Eket; Engr. Bassey, who said he has a property which has been valued at about N20m by his private valuer, complained that what the state Government has offered cannot build a structure closed to his former house considering the fact that he needs to buy a new portion of land and the much increase in prices of building items owing to the fall in naira value.
“I think the state Government should not leave me less than I was if my house is pulled down; I’m not against development but at least the sweat that some of us built houses with should be compensated. I did not have all the money to just build but from all the receipts that I can gather; which I have shown to the surveyors, I need to be given what I can conveniently buy a land else way to build similar structure.” Bassey reasoned.
Many others have similar complaints in different areas affected and are calling on the state Government to revisit the compensation process.
The ongoing demolition of illegal structures in Eket metropolis is part of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s beautification project of Eket Urban.