Lokogoma: A city to become desolate
As the two weeks ultimatum to demolish structures along waterways in Lokogoma Estate inspires this week, our FCT Correspondent, Austine ELEMUE, examines the implications of the planned exercise.
"Let his dwelling place become desolate, and let there be no inhabitant in it and, his office of oversight let someone else take".
This Bible verse may soon be the fate of Lokogoma residents as authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration is set to pull down structures along waterways within the estate.
No doubt, Lokogoma is one of the fastest growing estates in the Federal Capital Territory with numerous infrastructural challenges ranging from poor road network, electricity, potable water supply, among others.
Despite these challenges, Lokogoma village, popularly called Dogon-Gada, is few minutes’ drive from Garki and is reputed as one of the fastest growing urban slums closest to the city centre, and has an estimated 5,000 residents.
Historically, the present day Lokogoma was a thick forest. A youth leader, Mr. Irimiya Kanpani, told our correspondent how the name Lokogoma was coined.
“This place was a forest when my grandfather first settled here. There were many iroko trees in this area. At any turn, you will see more than 10 iroko trees, so they started sayingiroko goma.
"Iroko is the name of a large, hardwood tree from the West Coast of tropical Africa. It is called iroko in Yoruba language and uko in Igbo. So from Iroko Goma, which means 10 iroko trees, Lokogoma was coined", he said.
He said then the only road to Kabusa was through the community across River Kabusa. According to him, “so our fore fathers constructed the bridge with wood. It was the longest bridge within this area then".
He described indiscriminate land allocation to developers who paid little cognizance to the residents’ plights as a clog in the wheel of the community’s development. He said the estates had blocked all access roads within the district.
Today, Lokogoma has metamorphosed from forest to a residential area of Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. It is located just 30 minutes from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport and is about 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre and it is still under development.
Lokogoma started when a former FCT minister, Sen. Adamu Aliero, created more land for people seeking land outside the city centre. However, the district, which is gradually becoming Abuja’s hub of real estates is under serious threat of demolition by the authorities of the administration following series of flood incidents in the area.
Since 2017 flood that claimed the life of a father and two children, Lokogoma has attracted the attention of relevant authorities on how to right the wrongs of previous administrations and estate developers.
Precisely two weeks ago, the FCTA gave a two-week ultimatum to residents of IPET-5 Estate in Lokogoma district, whose buildings are along waterways and road corridors, to vacate the areas.
FCT Permanent Secretary, Sir Christian Ohaa, who gave the ultimatum during an unscheduled visit to the estate, also stated that after the two weeks ultimatum, the FCT administration would move in and demolish all structures along water corridors.
He disclosed that the buildings were built without approval from the administration, adding that the owners of the buildings were given allocations by the administration on where to build, but frowned that they have left the original allocations to build on waterways and on road corridors.
The permanent secretary also advised residents to always conduct necessary due diligence before agreeing to buy any property to avoid paying for wrong things or wrong places.
Speaking to our correspondent at the scene, Director of Engineering Services of the Federal Capital Development Authority, Engr. Ahmed Hadi, confirmed the death of a 17 year old who was drown after the heavy downpour in middle of June 2019.
Hadi revealed that the issue of flooding has not been solved in Lokogoma district, stressing that the whole waterway have been blocked with buildings, retaining walls and undersized convert.
He confirmed that most of the structures on waterways are built without approval from relevant authorities, even as he threatened that most of the structures must be pulled down to ease the flow of water.
According to him, "In August 2017, the whole of Lokogoma was flooded in three locations and a family of three lost their lives. We were called upon as the authority to intervene so we did some palliative works which some of them are still standing.
"The issue of flooding has not yet been solved. At the first location where we entered from, we were able to solve it because we did some emergency work there, but the other two locations which this one is part of it, we just did some palliative work to curtain it.
"Incidentally, what is causing this flooding is the issue of the construction ways, right in front of me here is the alignment of River Kabusa, but if you look at what is happening here the whole place has been occupied with buildings, retaining walls and undersized convert. The only thing the people have to know is that Lokogoma is a ticking time bomb.
"And when you do that to the waterways it will be narrowed and the result will be erosion because the speed will increase and start eroding whatever it meet on the way. Presently, the government is procuring a contract that will solve the problem permanently. The contract is under procurement and before the year runs out, they will be able to complete it".
He further said, "There are various agencies, the Development Control Department is here, a committee has been set up, we have been able to identify the structures involved. The major cause of this problem is that residents have built on the waterways. We have to interface with them and from there we take it up.
"But definitely, these structures have to give way. I cannot give you the figure, but there are so many houses that will give way. In this location, if you just watch, look back, you will be able to pick some, down there you will be able to pick some. But when we do the actuall survey, the way it is and from the original master plan of this area and place it, you will be able to pick out the exact structures that are involved".
Despite the justification by the administration to demolish the area, residents especially the off-takers have expressed different views towards the planned demolition.
The chairman of Lokogoma District Residents Association, Dr. Joseph Nnorom, said the authorities of FCT Administration should be blamed for whatever that has happened in Lokogoma district, warning that before demolition of any structure, the issue of compensation should be put in the front burner.
"It is unfortunate to see the tragic loss of lives and property in this area due to flooding. However, I want to stress here that no developer in this area is a squatter or off-shooter. Somebody somewhere gave them approval to develop these property that blocked the waterways. The issue that we must address therefore is that of compensation before the relevant authorities will pull down any structure the. People must be made to pay for their mistakes," he stressed.
Another resident who is also the chairman of I Pent 5 Estate, Mr. Dauda Kewa, said; "When this incident happened in 2017 that led to the death of three residents we visited the former Federal Capital Territory minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, in his office. He gave an order that the road should be rehabilitated immediately. The Lokogoma junction and our own road. We have seen that the Lokogoma junction is completed after one year now, but we don't know what is happening to this our own road".
Kewa, claimed that residents of the estate have contributed over N6 million to create alternative route to the city center, adding that each household contributed N150,000.
Lamenting on the hardship they have faced as a result of the road, Kewa said "Whenever it rains, we have to stay back in our homes for about 4 to 5 hours before going out or if you are outside you remain there too. That is our fate in this estate".
Also speaking, chairman of Lokogoma 11 Residents Association, Stanley Ugwu, revealed that most of the affected buildings were bought from the developers, adding that the owners of the buildings never believed that due diligence were not conducted before the building were sold to them.
Ugwu, therefore appealed to the FCT Administration to assist the affected owners of the property to get compensation from the developers, adding that it is only the administration that could enforce such action.
For now, it is blame game, while many fear for their fates.
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