The Lagos State Government has reiterated its determination to reclaim all its drainage setbacks in Apapa from encroachment following a meeting with property owners and residents.
The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, revealed this on Friday in Alausa.
Wahab, who spoke at a meeting with property owners in Apapa, said for several years the ministry has not been able to access the eight major drains for maintenance due to encroachment.
Addressing the gathering alongside the Special Adviser Environment, Olakunle Rotimi-Akodu, the Commissioner directed enforcement officers to ensure that all contravening properties are served with the mandatory notices as the State will not cherrypick properties for enforcement.
According to him: “Where there are primary and secondary collectors, the right of way or setback are put in place by law and regulation.
“Residents should always adhere to this.
“It is not because we want to toy with residents’ properties, but because the law states that we must maintain the collectors always.”
Wahab added that the law requires that drainages across the state should have thorough access for cleaning, but the reverse is the case here, saying the government is determined to find a realistic solution to the flooding in the area and as a result of this, contravention notices would be served to all residents from Monday.
He said: “When you have collectors at critical areas, I mean coastal areas like Apapa, residents take laws into their hands and build on right of way, they will eventually come back blaming the government.
“So far you have your land, maintaining a two to three meters setback between your property and the collectors should not be a problem.”
He said the natural setback for all drainage channels is three meters, but the Ministry decided to put a human face to its decision, which brought about the reduction to two meters.
Wahab, who also continued his dialogue with property owners on the corridors of System 156 and 157 in Lekki, brought a proposition prepared by the State to re-establish some part of the obliterated system 156 with minimal property removals as an aftermath of three proposals submitted earlier by the property owners.
Part of the suggestion in the proposal is that some part of the cost of construction of the realignment would be borne by the State, while the property owners would also be responsible for some.
He urged the property owners in the 156 corridor to organise themselves into a group and do a critical appraisal of the proposal from the state, urging them to turn in their views by next Friday.
He explained that it is not mandatory for the property owners to toe the line of the state government and should be ready to sign an MOU on modalities for cleaning the drainages after an amicable resolution.
The Commissioner also gave an assurance that the construction part of the realignment that would be borne by the property owners would be handled by them with the state only supervising for standards.
Also during the meeting, the Commissioner affirmed that drone footage shows the channel has been reduced from the original size of 46 metres to 25 metres on both sides by land reclamation and some structures.
He said the government is determined to find a realistic solution to the flooding in the area by not allowing what happened on System 156 to repeat itself on System 147 with the sign becoming very evident.
According to Wahab: “As regards System 157, we will serve contravention notices/stop work orders as required by law.
“Government will not fold its arms and allow these infractions to continue.
“The land reclamation that has extended beyond the approved plan would be pushed back, while other nuisances would be removed from the drainage right of way.”
The Commissioner thereafter urged developers and builders to always seek drainage approvals before commencing any building project.
Rotimi-Akodu advised residents affected to move their fences themselves immediately, saying that following the expiration of contravention notices served on all the properties to move the fences backwards themselves, the State will go on and enforce the law appropriately.
“I want to advice residents to go and do the needful if you did not apply the two to three meters setback away from the channel and those that have their fences at the edge of the drain should go and do the needful,” he said.
He added that their failure to comply translates that the government will use instruments of law and reclaim the original three metres setback using enforcement.
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The Permanent Secretary, Office of Drainage Services, Engr. Mahamood Adegbite, noted that government committed huge expenditure to put infrastructure in place across Apapa to avoid flooding.
Adegbite said: “Apapa is one of our special areas in the state and as far as we are concerned, we are looking at it from a strategic point of view to make sure Apapa is not flooded again.
“As a result of this, government invested a lot of money to put up drainage infrastructure but it observed now that there are lot of blockages in most them.”