Illegal settlement: LASG launches manhunt for suspected landlords

By Adeola Ogunrinde

Lagos State Government has intensified efforts to arrest the suspected landlords who rented out the underbridge apartments to tenants.

Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, disclosed this on Friday, at the on-going Ministerial Press briefing in Alausa, ikeja.

Wahab noted “In a renewed step to ensure safety of lives of residents, the Operatives of Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI/LAGESC, in line with the provisions of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Management law renewed the enforcement of the use of pedestrian bridges.

“At the count, a total number of 1,032 persons were arrested for crossing the highway and failure to use pedestrian bridges.

“165 miscreants and squatters on the pedestrian bridges across the state were also dislodged and the bridges cleaned up. Just about 24 hours ago, the operatives carried out an operation that unearthed a major illegal housing settlement constructed under the Dolphin Bridge Ikoyi.

“An unbelievable 80 rooms partitioned 10×10 and 10×12 and a container used for different illegal activities was also discovered.

“All the structures have been dismantled and a total of 36 miscreants who lived under the were arrested while efforts are being intensified to arrest the ring leaders who rented out the underbridge apartments which also add electricity supply.”

Recall that as part of the ongoing removal of illegal structures, the state government on Thursday, uncovered another set of apartments under bridge located in the highbrow area of Ikoyi, Lagos State.

Earlier on Tuesday, Wahab, had in a tweet on his official X handle page, announced discovery of an apartment under the Dolphin Estate Bridge in Ikoyi where tenants paid N250,000 annual rent.

In the latest tweet on his X handle page on Friday, Wahab announced that the illegal settlement was discovered under Osborne Bridge, Ikoyi.

According to Wahab, “Another illegal settlement was discovered under the Osborne Bridge, Ikoyi. Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps @LAGESCOfficial (KAI) commenced immediate clearance operation,” the commissioner wrote on X.

The state government had earlier dislodged tenants under Dolphins Estate Bridge, who paid N250, 000 annually to landlords involved in the nefarious act.

The tenants who were dislodged in the process were discovered during an enforcement exercise by officials of the state government during demolition of illegal structures

He added that the enforcement team of Lagos State’s Ministry of Environment and Water Resources had successfully removed all structures, including a container utilised for various illegal activities, from beneath the Dolphin Estate Bridge.

The commissioner wrote, “18 individuals squatting illegally under the bridge leading from Dolphin Estate were arrested yesterday 30th of April, 2024 by the officials from the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps.

“A total number of 86 rooms, partitioned into 10×10 and 12×10, and a container used for different illegal activities were discovered under the Dolphin Estate Bridge.

“They have all been removed by the enforcement team of the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.”

On styrofoam, Wahab explained, “Following my announcement of a ban of use, sale and distribution of Styrofoam food containers on January 22, 2024, due to grave health concerns and the dangers to our eco system and drainage channels, the Ministry through the Sanitation Services Department facilitated meetings with stakeholders concerned and followed up the 3 weeks’ moratorium to mop-up Styrofoam products from distributors and Lagos markets.

“After the expiration, enforcement activities were commenced by joint effort of Scientific Officers in the Ministry, Environmental Health Officers as well as KAI personnel in the State.

“A total of over 900 kg of Styrofoam food containers have so far been confiscated and deposited at the TLS Marini in Oshodi for destruction.

“More efforts are however being intensified on public awareness and sensitization of residents on the dangers inherent in the continued usage of the Styrofoam food containers.One of our agencies, LAWMA during the period under review identified 103 illegal blackspots across the metropolis and made efforts to ensure its dislodging just as a total number of 1,081 environmental offenders were arrested for various environmental offences with 1016 being prosecuted by the Mobile Magistrate’s court and sentenced to community service at various locations in the state, with an option of fine.

“Monitoring gangs were also deployed across 20 Local Governments to capture evidence of illegal dumping activities and possible prosecution.”

Also commenting on tenants under bridges, the Special Adviser on Environment and Water Resources to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Mr. Kunle Rotimi-Akodu, further confirmed the eviction of illegal settlers from beneath the bridge towards Dolphin Estate in Ikoyi.

Rotimi-Akodu said 23 individuals were arrested during the eviction, saying the exercise was part of ongoing clampdown on illegal structures across the metropolis and aimed to rid Lagos of illegal structures.

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