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Disquiet As Anambra Government Task Force Demolishes 3-Storey Building, Other Structures at Okpoko Slum Settlement



By Praise Chinecherem

Many residents of Okpoko, a slum settlement in Ogbaru Council Area of Anambra State have been rendered homeless following the demolition of illegal buildings, including a three-storey building, and other shanties blocking waterways by the state government task force. 

AnambraDaily recalled that Governor Chukwuma Soludo had, after his inauguration visited Okpoko, where he promised to transform the area into a liveable settlement.

The government demolition task force which had launched crackdown on Illegal Structures blocking drainage channels in Onitsha metropolis, moved into the area, pulling down structures that distorted the environment.

Some victims who spoke to reporters decried the shortness of the notice, saying they were not given ample time to remove their property and relocate. They however commended the government for coming to their rescue.

Emmanuel Egbe said, “We have no problem with the demolition ad we believe it is for the best. The diseases we suffer here and the stench coming from the blocked drains and refuse heaps is nauseating and surprisingly, we have lived with this for all these years.

“Now that we have a governor with the political will to change things, we are hoping that this initiative will be completed as planned and this place opened up,” he said.

Vice President General, Okpoko community, Mr Nwanze Francis, expressed support to Soludo-led administration for embarking on the demolition exercise, saying it was in the interest of the people.

He said, “I am not against the demolition because the governor met with us and explained the need to embark on this exercise.

“Soludo is the kind of governor we need in the state to turn around many anomalies.

“We are however not excluding the option that government may look on us with pity and decide to give us some sort of compensation.”

Reacting, Chairman, Anambra state Town planning board, Barr Chike Maduekwe called for the support of the people, saying if the buildings are not pulled down, it will be impossible to access the Sakamori drainage for desilting.

He insisted that the government is not wicked but only trying to safeguard the lives and health of the people by its slum recovery initiative.

He said, “The houses being pulled down are not up to 10 meters from the drainage, contrary to the 30 meter stipulation. Government has promised Anambra people a liveable and prosperous homeland.

“But you can’t have that when people have blocked waterways and drainages. When it rains consistently, most of these houses are flooded and we may even record deaths and so much loss.

“I have read on social media where people are talking about government being wicked but that’s not true,” he said.

The ANSPPB boss pleaded with the people of the State to understand that the move was for their own safety and posterity.

He called on developers to always endeavor to do what is right, stressing that the present administration would leave no stone unturned in transforming the state.

He further pleaded with those whose buildings have been marked to comply with government directive and move, warning that government must make good its directives.

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