By Kunle Adedoyin
Residents of Magodo, in Lagos state have raised the alarm over the alleged plan by a consortium involving a company and traditional authorities to convert a green belt in the area to a housing estate that the promoters have named The Plush.
The green belt, which is located in a vast gorge that separates Magodo GRA Phases 1 and 2, is located in the Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area of the state.
The Gateway Zone Community Development Association, Magodo G.R.A Phase 1, Lagos State, which is leading the crusade to stop the development of The Plush Estate, said the proposed site for the housing estate is a green belt that is always flooded, as a canal runs through it to serve as a pathway for water to flow into the lagoon.
Residents of the area say unrestricted and illegal development in other parts of the gorge has led to landslides, which have resulted in the loss of lives and property.
The canal is now blocked and re-directed, enabling the sponsors and marketers of the housing estate to advertise the swampy location as dry land to unsuspecting members of the public.
The promoters had also advertised the estate as part of the Gateway Zone CDA, Magodo G.R.A Phase 1 and that access to the site would be through its main gate.
But the association’s Chairman, Oyebode Ojomu, refuted the claim, stressing that the plan portended danger and environmental hazards for members of the public.
The disclaimer read in part, “The Plush is never and shall not be part of the Gateway Zone CDA and neither shall road access to The Plush be through the Gateway Zone CDA nor any consideration is being given to access through the Gateway Zone CDA by the Lagos State Government and the Gateway community.
“The members of the general public, especially those with keen interest to invest, should please crosscheck the facts with the New Towns Development Authority and check the Magodo GRA Phase I, Isheri, Lagos, map signboard displayed at the two official gates, to identify the location of The Plush, delineated and demarcated as outside the Gateway Zone CDA and marked as The Gorge.”
Ojomu said building an estate in the gorge is an environmental risk capable of endangering lives and properties in the state.
While urging the state government to intervene, he said efforts by the estate management to get the NTDA to correct the anomaly that The Plush represented had proved abortive.
“We have an objection to the people, who want to develop The Plush, blocking the canal, which is an environmental attack. They fenced up the canal, and in an attempt to divert it elsewhere, blocked the water coming from the Otedola Bridge area. This is dangerous.
“Land-grabbers have always gained access into the estate by intimidation, or by surreptitiously entering the estate on the claim that they are going somewhere else. We will no longer tolerate that and we have taken a decision that no truck will bring anything into the estate henceforth and residents, who are expecting trucks to bring in materials, must register at the gate, otherwise, access will be denied.
“We don’t know these land-grabbers, but we feel that they are looking for an opportunity in the gorge and the only way they can get money from people is through the gorge. We have reported the development to the Divisional Police Officer in the area and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Area ‘H’; the land-grabbers tried to fight back but when we came with the master plan, they lost out.
“We thought the matter had been rested since last year, only for them to come back for the groundbreaking and started marketing the land.
“We are calling on the Lagos State Government to intervene as our estate and the Magodo Phase 2 are vulnerable through the adjoining gorge, which is unguarded and has become a source of serious insecurity to the estate. We have been writing petitions to the government since last year and have complained to the NTDA. We lodged a complaint with the agency last week; we don’t need to have casualties before they take action.”
The Estate Security Supervisor, Edward Ochayi, lamented the rate at which land-grabbers were creating problems in a bid to gain access to the estate, alleging that on the day of the groundbreaking, the Baale of Magodo allegedly mobilised strangers and hoodlums into the estate.
A landlord in the estate, Olugbenga Hassan, while condemning the invasion of the estate, said no fewer than 100 people gained unauthorised access into the estate during the groundbreaking.
He explained that the place where the groundbreaking took place was a gorge, and doubted that the actions of the sponsors and marketers of The Plush were in line with the plans of the state government.
“I know that the family claiming the land has a lawyer and I know that the Baale of Magodo is also involved. They have been trying to get people to buy the place; there was a time they brought a developer, who filled the place with over 100 tipper lorry loads of sand, which later disappeared.
“There has been a conflict between the CDA and these people, because they do not want to follow the official route and we are saying that if anything will happen, it should be with the knowledge of the Lands Bureau and the NTDA.
“We have put a signpost indicating that whoever wants to buy land in that gorge cannot come in through our estate, because the road is too narrow. They should find another exit because a lot of communities surround the gorge.”
Meanwhile, Aderenle Oni, General Manager, of Lagos State New Town Development Authority (NTDA) denied the agency has given permission for the development of a housing estate in the gorge.
“We have not approved anything of such, but in any case, we shall be there on Tuesday (today) to see things for ourselves. Who will give them approval for such a thing?” he said.