By Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos
Anger, protest and wailings 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 last week commenced the demolition exercise ahead of the commencement of the 155- kilometer Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge train project.
Managing Director of the NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria had last week said the NRC 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.
Not long after the MD briefed newsmen, 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.
Daily Trust observed that many structures have been pulled down on the rail line while several houses are currently marked for demolition with residents currently leaving in fears and anxiety.
The MD of Railway could not be reached yesterday as he did not pick his call neither did he reply to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
However, residents and landlords are crying and wailing over the demolition, saying they were caught unawares as they were not adequately notified neither was any compensation paid to them.
Landlords and residents of Railway line in Mushin off Olateju on Monday told Daily Trust the notice given to them was very short.
Besides, they said no form of compensation had been paid to them, warning the Federal Government to thread softly with the demolition.
Spokesman of Landlords' Association, Mr. Daniel O. Daniels, explained that they thought the demolition was a rumour until the NRC brought cranes to their areas.
He said, "I will say that we were caught unawares because the notice that we were given was very 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.
"No compensation has been made so far. There is no place, no landlord or any person that has been given any compensation. The notice we were given is just too short. They came on Thursday and they started demolition on Friday, less than 24 hours."
Daniels warned the NRC not to take the landlords for granted, saying they should follow due process in carrying out their demolition.
"We are telling them to go through the normal process. Those that have valid documents should be duly compensated and probably those that don't have because Obasanjo did it when he was constructing Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. He compensated those that had documents and those that didn't have.
Are they saying those that have built houses now should become tenants or should go and be sleeping under bridge?"
Chief Imam of Sadiku Oloro Central Mosque which is likely to be affected by the demolition said most of the landlords in the area are widows and pensioners who are already living from hand to mouth, saying pulling down their property would exacerbate their precarious situation.
Also speaking, Alhaji Abdullateef Adegboyega said he has been living in the area for the past 50 years, pleading with the NRC to settle them before embarking on any demolition. He said his building marked for demolition had valid documents which he offered to hand over to our correspondent.