Tears, protests as NRC pulls down structures over Lagos-Ibadan rail tracks

Train ride

Protests have trailed the demolition of structures allegedly standing on the right of way of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) in many parts of Lagos State.

The NRC had on Friday commenced the demolition ahead of the commencement of the 155-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge train project, which was recently launched by the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, had at the weekend told newsmen that bulldozers would clear all “illegal” structures on the railway line, pointing out that property owners with valid documents would be compensated. He also said owners of the affected structures had been duly notified to pack their belongings.

Shortly after Okhiria made his intention known, the corporation swung into action clearing all structures blocking the rail line beginning from Yaba up to Surulere, Mushin, Oshodi, Ikeja, Iju-Ishaga, Agbado, among others.

As many Nigerians were celebrating Easter and the holidays, many structures were being pulled down on the rail line while several houses are currently marked for demolition with residents currently living in fear and anxiety.

No fewer than five churches, three mosques and two preparatory schools were reduced to rubbles in the demolition carried out by the NRC to clear the rail track for the Federal Government Railway Modernisation Project.

The demolition started around 8a.m. on Friday when many of the traders were yet to open for business. The operation was led by the chairman of NRC Committee for Removal of Illegal Structures, Mr. Anthony Ochuko Onyokoko. More than 2,000 shanties were demolished in the operation.

Some of the affected occupants and traders could not be consoled as they counted their losses. Mrs. Kabirat Adeniji, 48, who operated a wholesale liquor store rolled on the floor as her three shops were brought down. She said she had recently stocked her shops with goods worth N500,000.

Mrs. Adeniji, who said she rented the three shops 18 years ago, said: “These people (NRC officials) have finished me. There is nothing my children and I will eat again. As you can see, my source of livelihood has just been destroyed by the Railway Corporation. I don’t know where to start again. As I am talking to you, I don’t have anything again.”

However, residents and landlords are crying foul over the demolition, saying they were caught unawares as they were not adequately notified neither was any compensation paid to them.

Briefing newsmen yesterday, landlords and residents of Railway line in Mushin, off Olateju street, said the notice given to them was very short. Besides, there was no form of compensation paid to them, they claim.

Warning the Federal Government to thread softly with the demolition, spokesman of the Landlords’ Association, Mr. Daniel O. Daniels, said they at first thought the demolition was a rumour until the NRC brought cranes to their area.  

“We were caught unawares because the notice that we were given was too short. Nobody was prepared for it and so far no compensation has been made. Everything was just like a rumour. Then it came to pass and we were told that this is the first batch, that they are still coming for the second batch, which would affect the real houses in this area.

“The notice we were given is just too short. They came on Thursday and they started demolition on Friday, less than 24 hours,” he added.Chief Imam of Sadiku Oloro Central Mosque, already marked for demolition, said most of the landlords in the area are widows and pensioners who are already living from hand to mouth. He said pulling down their property would worsen their precarious situation.

Also speaking, Alhaji Abdullateef Adegboyega said he has been living in the area for the past 50 years. He pleaded with the NRC to settle them before embarking on any demolition. He said his building marked for demolition has valid documents.

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  • Ebony Dollars

    well i pity the landlords but occupying nrc properties is not a wise idea. and we cant wait until these landlords actually moved because they will not move. some can even engaged in metaphysical powers to disrupt the construction process. which is invariably affecting our development in this country. however, the govt should compensate the landlords with valid papers as promised and it should not be delayed. that is fair justice because accommodation is the basis of good living. i pray for the successful completion of the project becuse it is part of tangible development both economically and socially.

  • Yinusa

    I think the demolition is good if the structures are actually on the right of way. This should be extended to all other town across the country as some of them are just too close to the rail line, meaning they might have been built on NRC land.

  • Curseless

    These same people shedding crocodile tears knew long ago that a day of reckoning will soon come, but how can any government manage a group of people who believe that they can only get their wares to sell by building shanties on rail lines. The whole thing bothers on gross indiscipline and selfishness and come to think of it the NRC also need to share in some of the blame. It is a known fact that NRC officers sublet some of these open areas just to make quick buck. We have all become so desensitized to reveling in a filthy environment that it has become our second nature and as a result of this the so called mega city being built in Lagos might soon turn out to be a gigantic slum. I bet my money that the sooner it becomes operative the kiosk mentality will start kicking in as suya joint, pepper soup joint and all sort af Junk unlimited businesses will vie for open spaces to build their shanties too. The new Lagos- Ibadan express will also bow to this anything goes mentality and the question then will be when can we live in cleanliness as a people or is our fate cast in indiscipline and filth?

  • infinity2020

    How i wish all these people crying about their merchandise knows what is going on in an orderly sane country may be then they will thank god that they were not in prison for trespassing and obstruction . We need a lot of grass root education about the effect of filthy environment on our psyche as a people. Cleanliness is next to Godliness !!!!!!