Lagos State Government has said the demolition of distressed buildings at Alaba International Market in t Ojo area of the state was to protect lives.
The General Manager of Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA), Gbolahan Oki, stated this during an on-the-spot assessment of the market, on Saturday.
Oki visited the market alongside Kehinde Osinaike, his counterpart in Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), and the seven-member committee set up by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The recent demolition of shops at the market was alleged to have been targeted at businesses owned and operated by Igbos in Lagos.
In order to douse the tension between the Igbos and Yorubas in the state, Imo State Governor, Sen Hope Uzodinma and Sanwo-Olu set up a committee to strengthen the relationship between the two ethnic groups.
During the assessment, Oki explained that the demolition was to enforce building regulations and prevent building collapse.
He said most of the demolished buildings lacked permits and necessary documentations.
“ The lives of traders and other Nigerians are extremely important to the Lagos State Government.
“I have seen people painting buildings that are dilapidated, that are not good. It is not painting that makes a building new. Our lives are more important,” he said.
Oki urged owners of distressed buildings marked for demolition to remove them within two weeks to prevent disaster.
He said the government would move in to take action if the instruction is neglected.
The General Manager added that there is no ethnic colouration to the decisions of the government “whose only motive was to prevent building collapse, to ensure safety of lives of the traders and other Nigerians.”
“My mandate is to remove anything that is dilapidated, that is harmful to the people that even own it,” he said.
Oki noted that Sanwo-Olu set up the committee to look into the demolition without causing disaffection among the traders at the market.
He said LASBCA officials were usually prevented from enforcing laws by people who failed to get building plan approvals or those who did illegal conversion of their properties
Earlier, Oki and his team had a meeting with the leadership of the market at LASBCA head office in Ikeja GRA before they embarked on the trip to the market.
During the meeting, the market leaders, who are members of the technical committee, discussed the way forward.
Secretary of the committee, Chris Maduka, commended the government’s action to sanitise the market.
Maduka said the demolition was in the best interest of everyone and appealed for the cooperation and understanding of the traders affected by the exercise.