By Stanley Onyekwere
No fewer than 400 corner shops purportedly converted into residential buildings in the Gwarinpa area of the FCT were last week pulled down for contravening building codes and defacing the aesthetics of the environment.
The demolition exercise which was carried out by the Development Control Department and the Ministerial Task Force on City Sanitation also saw the removal of structures obstructing the water way.
Director of the Department, Mukhtar Galadima, who spoke to journalists shortly after the exercise, lamented the poor hygiene and sanitation in the area where waste are being released directly to the stream.
According to him, “This place you are seeing are not suppose to be houses, they were actually corner shops but people have converted them to residential abode. We have over 400 shops that were converted to residential buildings.
“We are working with Federal Housing Authority, we had some discussions with them on how to convert it into a modern mall but for now the thing that is called corner shops is not being used for that particular purpose, rather it is being used as residential buildings. And when you look at the number of people staying here, the hygiene and sanitation is zero so for safety reasons it is better to remove them.
The Director also decried the pace of building on water ways saying, “What we are trying to do is to recover the flood plain within Gwarinpa, people built on water way. The area is not properly planned because they are just discharging their waste directly to the stream and this could be a source of epidemic. If we don’t take action immediately the consequences is unimaginable so I will advice them not to interfere with water channels.”
Also reacting, the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring Inspection and Enforcement to the minister of FCT, Ikahro Attah, expressed shock at the level of illegality in that area, saying the people’s actions has made Gwarinpa prone to flooding.
“They even pushed the stream to a point that of there is an heavy rain, there will be massive flooding and this is a disaster waiting to happen. Very sad here, the FCTA through FEMA and other components agencies had given warning. The Federal Government had given warning through the water resources, NIMET also warned against an impending flooding but people decided to build on the flood plain and they are arguing about 15 meters but they built zero meters some are on minus 3 meters and thereby constricting the water way so when disaster struck, they will say Government is not serious.
“We are counting them, we don’t know the number yet. The Development Control are really showing commitment to save lives, so that flooding would not happen in Gwarinpa.”
He however lamented, “Not even one soak away in the whole community, once they defecates, urinate everything comes straight to the stream, they cannot dig soak away because it is a water bed.
“Once anyone defecates in his house it comes to the stream and that is an epidemic a disaster that is waiting to happen. We are also trying to prevent flooding so that when rain comes, it will have a wilder flood plain to pass through.”