Imo govt begins demolition of illegal structures

Imo State Government has begun the demolition of illegal structures erected on water channels, under high tension cables and other unauthorised places across Owerri, the state capital.

We gathered that bulldozers were deployed by the government with officials of the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA), alongside security agencies carrying out the exercise.

They demolished buildings built on roads and water channels along Egbu Road. Stores, shops and shanties built under high tension cables at World Bank, Amakohia and New Owerri were not spared.

Speaking with journalists at one of the affected buildings on Egbu Road, Owerri, OCDA General Manager, Innocent Ikpamezie said the exercise became necessary to address poor living and working environment as well as incessant cases of flood in Owerri.

He added, ”The exercise will involve development control activities to ensure illegal structures, which are poorly constructed and wrongly sited, are demolished.

“There has been an established system of drainage that has not worked for years in this area. Whenever it rains, the whole of Ikenegbu Extension and Federal Housing Layout will be flooded. This has led to the displacement of many families. The reason behind this is that someone built this house at the centre of Ihecheowa Street. The street is supposed to burst at Egbu Road. But the building blocked it and equally blocked the water channels from entering from Ikenegbu Extension to the nearby Otamiri River.

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“So, what happens is that since the waterways were blocked, rain water and flood have to form burrows on the road and in people’s houses and even displaced people from their homes.

“It was when Governor Hope Uzodimma started looking for solution for this perennial flooding that he discovered that this building was constructed unlawfully against master plan of the state capital and he ordered the removal of the building.

“Since last year when the governor addressed the affected residents, we have given the occupants of the building enough time to relocate so that the government will continue its work. But you know human beings. Even if you allow the occupants another two years to evacuate, they will still give reasons for not doing that.

“As you can see, the building has been marked for demolition three times because the government must restore the city well.”

Hailing some owners of the buildings for not putting up any resistance like some others would do, Ikpamezie said some of the buildings being demolished were equally marked for demolition during the administrations of Achike Udenwa and Rochas Okorocha.

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Some of the affected tenants said that although the Governor had come to address them on the need to relocate, financial difficulty prevented them from relocating before the deadline.

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